Previous studies in young and adolescent twins suggested substantial genetic contributions to the amplitude and latency of the P3 evoked by targets in an oddball paradigm. Here we examined whether these findings can be generalized to adult samples. A total of 651 twins and siblings from 292 families participated in a visual oddball task. In half of the subjects the age centered around 26 (young adult cohort), in the other half the age centered around 49 (middle-aged adult cohort). P3 peak amplitude and latency were scored for 3 midline leads Pz, Cz, and Fz. No cohort differences in heritability were found. P3 amplitude (∼50%) and latency (∼45%) were moderately heritable for the 3 leads. A single genetic factor influenced latency at all electrodes, suggesting a single P3 timing mechanism. Specific genetic factors influenced amplitude at each lead, suggesting local modulation of the P3 once triggered. Genetic analysis of the full event-related potential waveform showed that P3 heritability barely changes from about 100 ms before to 100 ms after the peak. Age differences are restricted to differences in means and variances, but the proportion of genetic variance as part of the total variance of midline P3 amplitude and latency does not change from young to middle-aged adulthood.
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)