Behavior Genetics

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 367–381

A Twin Study of Differentiation of Cognitive Abilities in Childhood

  • Authors
  • M. J. H. Rietveld
  • C. V. Dolan
  • G. C. M. van Baal
  • D. I. Boomsma

DOI: 10.1023/A:1025388908177

Cite this article as:
Rietveld, M.J.H., Dolan, C.V., van Baal, G.C.M. et al. Behav Genet (2003) 33: 367. doi:10.1023/A:1025388908177


The differentiation hypothesis in cognitive development states that cognitive abilities become progressively more independent as children grow older. Studies of phenotypic development in children have generally failed to produce convincing support for this hypothesis. The aim of the present study is to investigate the issue of differentiation at the genetic and environmental level. Six psychometric measures assessing verbal and nonverbal cognitive abilities were administered to 209 Dutch twin pairs at ages 5, 7, and 10 years. Longitudinal results provided little evidence for the differentiation hypothesis. Stability in subtest performance is due mainly to genetic influences. The shared environment contribution to phenotypic stability is small. The unique environment contributes to age-specific variance only.

Differentiationcognitive abilitiesheritabilitylongitudinalchildhood

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003