Genetic analyses of the stability of executive functioning during childhood.

T.J.C. Polderman, D. Posthuma, L.M.J. de Sonneville, J.F. Stins, F.C. Verhulst, D.I. Boomsma

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Executive functioning is an umbrella term for several related cognitive functions like selective- and sustained attention, working memory, and inhibition. Little is known about the stability of executive functioning during childhood. In this study the longitudinal stability of executive functioning was examined in young twins. The twin design enables to investigate genetic and environmental contributions to (the stability of) executive functioning. Computerized reaction time tasks on working memory, selective- and sustained attention were collected in twins at age 5 years (N = 474 children) and at age 12 (N = 346 children). The longitudinal correlations of processing speed on all tasks were substantial (∼0.38). For slope (i.e., the delay caused by higher memory load) and fluctuation in tempo the longitudinal correlations were 0.08 and 0.26, respectively. The results hinted at genetic factors being an important mediator of stability of executive functioning over time. Also, genetic variation was the most important explanation for individual differences in executive functioning at both ages. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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