Individual differences in inspection time explain about 20% of IQ test variance. To determine whether the association between inspection time and IQ is mediated by common genes or by a common environmental factor, inspection time and IQ were assessed in an extended twin design. Data from 688 participants from 271 families were collected as part of a large ongoing project on the genetics of adult brain function and cognition. The sample consisted of a young adult cohort (mean age 26.2 years) and an older adult cohort (mean age 50.4 years). IQ was assessed with the Dutch version of the WAIS-3R. Inspection time was measured in the so-called Π-paradigm, in which a subject is asked to decide which leg of the Π-figure is longest at varying display times of the Π-figure. The number of correct inspections per second (i.e., the reciprocal of inspection time) was used to index perceptual speed. For Verbal IQ and Performance IQ, heritabilities were 85% and 69%, respectively. For perceptual speed, 46% of the total variance was explained by genetic variance. No differences in heritability estimates across age cohorts or sexes were found. Across the whole sample, a significant phenotypic correlation was found between perceptual speed and Verbal IQ (0.19) and between perceptual speed and Performance IQ (0.27). These correlations were entirely due to a common genetic factor that accounted for 10% of the genetic variance in verbal IQ and for 22% of the genetic variance in performance IQ. This factor is hypothesized to reflect the influence of genetic factors that determine axonal myelination in the central nervous system.
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Posthuma, D., de Geus, E.J.C. & Boomsma, D.I. Perceptual Speed and IQ Are Associated Through Common Genetic Factors. Behav Genet 31, 593–602 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013349512683