A biometric latent curve analysis of memory decline in older men of the NAS-NRC twin registry.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Previous research has shown cognitive abilities to have different biometric patterns of age-changes. We examined the variation in episodic memory (word recall task) for over 6,000 twin pairs who were initially aged 59-75, and were subsequently re-assessed up to three more times over 12 years. In cross-sectional analyses, variation in the number of words recalled independent of age was explained largely by non-shared influences (65-72%), with clear additive genetic influences (12-32%), and marginal shared family influences (1-18%). The longitudinal phenotypic analysis of the word recall task showed systematic linear declines over age, but several nonlinear models with more dramatic changes at later ages, improved the overall fit. A two-part spline model for the longitudinal twin data with an optimal turning point at age 74 led to: (a) a separation of non-shared environmental influences and transient measurement error (~50%); (b) strong additive genetic components of this latent curve (~44% at age 60) with increases (over 50%) up to age 74, but with no additional genetic variation after age 74; (c) the smaller influences of shared family environment (~15% at age 74) were constant over all ages; (d) non-shared effects play an important role over most of the life-span but diminish after age 74.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McArdle, JJ; Plassman, BL

Published Date

  • September 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 472 - 495

PubMed ID

  • 19404731

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2846730

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-3297

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10519-009-9272-1


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States