Attention Problems, Inhibitory Control, and Intelligence Index Overlapping Genetic Factors: A Study in 9-, 12-, and 18-Year-Old Twins

Tinca Polderman, EJC de Geus, RA Hoekstra, MC Bartels, Marieke Leeuwen, Frank Verhulst, D Posthuma, DI Boomsma

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It is assumed that attention problems (AP) are related to impaired executive functioning. We investigated the association between AP and inhibitory control and tested to what extent the association was due to genetic factors shared with IQ. Data were available from 3 independent samples of 9-, 12-, and 18-year-old twins and their siblings (1,209 participants). AP were assessed with checklists completed by multiple informants. Inhibitory control was measured with the Stroop Color Word Task (Stroup, 1935), and IQ with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Wechsler et al., 2002) or Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (Wechsler, 1997). AP and inhibitory control were only correlated in the 12-year-old cohort (r =.18), but appeared non-significant after controlling for IQ. Significant correlations existed between AP and IQ in 9- and 12-year olds (r = -.26/-.34). Inhibitory control and IQ were correlated in all cohorts (r = -.16, -.24 and -.35, respectively). Genetic factors that influenced IQ also influenced inhibitory control. We conclude that the association between AP and inhibitory control as reported in the literature may largely derive from genetic factors that are shared with IQ.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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  • EMC NIHES-04-55-01

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