The Longitudinal Relationship between Processing Speed and Cognitive Ability: Genetic and Environmental Influences
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Goals of the present study were to investigate the relationship between age changes in speed and cognition and the genetic and environmental influences on that relationship. Latent growth models and quantitative genetic methods were applied to data from the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging. The sample included 778 individuals from both complete and incomplete twin pairs who participated in at least 1 of 4 testing occasions over a 13-year-period. Four factors were constructed from 11 cognitive measures: verbal, spatial, memory, and processing speed. Results indicate that for measures of fluid abilities, the explanatory value of processing speed is paramount for both mean cognitive performance and acceleration with age. A significant proportion of the genetic influences on cognitive ability arose from genetic factors affecting processing speed. For measures of fluid abilities, it is not the linear age changes but the accelerating age changes in cognition that share genetic variance with processing speed.
KeywordsCognitive aging crystallized ability fluid ability latent growth curve analysis longitudinal twin study processing speed
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