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Mol Psychiatry. 2018 Oct 19. doi: 10.1038/s41380-018-0277-0. [Epub ahead of print]

Genetic influence on cognitive development between childhood and adulthood.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. josephine.mollon@yale.edu.
2
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, and the Penn-CHOP Lifespan Brain Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
4
South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute, School of Medicine, University of Texas of the Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville, TX, USA.
5
Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
6
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
7
Program in Medical and Population Genetics, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
8
Department of Genetics, Perelman School of Medicine, and the Penn-CHOP Lifespan Brain Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
9
Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, Institute of Living, Hartford, CT, USA.

Abstract

Successful cognitive development between childhood and adulthood has important consequences for future mental and physical wellbeing, as well as occupational and financial success. Therefore, delineating the genetic influences underlying changes in cognitive abilities during this developmental period will provide important insights into the biological mechanisms that govern both typical and atypical maturation. Using data from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (PNC), a large population-based sample of individuals aged 8 to 21 years old (n = 6634), we used an empirical relatedness matrix to establish the heritability of general and specific cognitive functions and determine if genetic factors influence cognitive maturation (i.e., Gene × Age interactions) between childhood and early adulthood. We found that neurocognitive measures across childhood and early adulthood were significantly heritable. Moreover, genetic variance on general cognitive ability, or g, increased significantly between childhood and early adulthood. Finally, we did not find evidence for decay in genetic correlation on neurocognition throughout childhood and adulthood, suggesting that the same genetic factors underlie cognition at different ages throughout this developmental period. Establishing significant Gene × Age interactions in neurocognitive functions across childhood and early adulthood is a necessary first step in identifying genes that influence cognitive development, rather than genes that influence cognition per se. Moreover, since aberrant cognitive development confers risk for several psychiatric disorders, further examination of these Gene × Age interactions may provide important insights into their etiology.

PMID:
30644433
PMCID:
PMC6570578
DOI:
10.1038/s41380-018-0277-0

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