Multivariate Parent-Offspring Analyses of Specific Cognitive Abilities

Maricela Alarcón, Robert Plomin, Robin P. Corley and John C. Defries

in Nature, Nurture, and the Transition to Early Adolescence

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195157475
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848065 | DOI:
Multivariate Parent-Offspring                         Analyses of Specific Cognitive Abilities

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During the last few decades, family, twin, and adoption designs have been used to assess the genetic and environmental etiologies of specific cognitive abilities (SCA). The largest family study of SCA was the Hawaii Family Study of Cognition, which included test data from 1,816 intact nuclear families. Measures of parent-offspring resemblance can only be considered via upper-bound estimates of heritability. Thus, family studies can provide conclusive evidence for the familiarity of a trait, but not for its genetic etiology. In contrast, results obtained from twin studies can provide estimates of heritability. This chapter discusses the results of multivariate genetic analyses of Colorado Adoption Project (CAP) parent-offspring data at seven and twelve years of age, and compares them to those obtained by Rice et al. (1989) when the CAP children were only four years of age. The etiologies of individual differences for each of the four measures — verbal, spatial, perceptual speed, and memory — and their covariation were assessed by fitting a parent-offspring multivariate conditional path model to CAP specific cognitive abilities data.

Keywords: Colorado Adoption Project; specific cognitive abilities; etiology; parent-offspring resemblance; heritability; perceptual speed; memory

Chapter.  8202 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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