Cognitive profiles and heritability estimates in the Old Order Amish

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Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to establish the applicability of the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) in the Old Order Amish (OOA) and to assess the genetic contribution toward the RBANS total score and its cognitive domains using a large family-based sample of OOA.

Participants and methods

RBANS data were collected in 103 OOA individuals from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including 85 individuals without psychiatric illness and 18 individuals with current psychiatric diagnoses.

Results

The RBANS total score and all five cognitive domains of in nonpsychiatric OOA were within half a SD of the normative data of the general population. The RBANS total score was highly heritable (h2=0.51, P=0.019). OOA with psychiatric diagnoses had a numerically lower RBANS total score and domain scores compared with the nonpsychiatric participants.

Conclusion

The RBANS appears to be a suitable cognitive battery for the OOA population as measurements obtained from the OOA are comparable with normative data in the US population. The heritability estimated from the OOA is in line with heritabilities of other cognitive batteries estimated in other populations. These results support the use of RBANS in cognitive assessment, clinical care, and behavioral genetic studies of neuropsychological functioning in this population.

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