The Origins of Individual Differences in Memory Among the Elderly: A Behavior Genetic Analysis

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Abstract

The purpose of this investigation was to apply behavior genetic methods to investigate individual differenes in memory performance. Memory and various cognitive and lifestyle variables were obtained from 93 monozygotic twin pairs and 67 dyzygotic twin pairs aged 60–88 years as part of the Minnesota Twin Study of Adult Development and Aging. Univariate analysis, used to determine the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors on 4 measures of memory (word recall, immediate and delayed text recall, and figure memory), suggested that 55% of the variance in memory performance could be attributed to genetic factors. Bivariate analysis was used to determine the specific variables that mediate the genetic and environmental influences on memory. Results suggested that the relationship between memory and cognitive variables was genetic in nature, whereas the nature of the relationship between memory and lifestyle variables was environmental.

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