The Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA) study provides a unique opportunity to examine genetic and environmental influences on early cognitive change and associated risk factors. In VETSA 2, we propose our first 5-6 year follow-up of a large, age-homogenous sample that was middle-aged (50s) at baseline. Longitudinal studies of cognitive aging have employed cohort-sequential designs with age-heterogeneous samples that are usually weighted toward older subjects. There is solid evidence of change in midlife to early old age, but because mean change does tend to be modest, increased ability to examine individual differences is key. While no single design can provide all the answers, our novel design does enhance the ability to study differences in within-individual change patterns. By focusing on midlife, our design also has increased potential to identify early predictors of cognitive decline. Moreover, we are including an objective measure of allocation of cognitive effort that will be an important indicator, even in the absence of performance changes. We will follow 720 middle-aged twin pairs (1440 individuals) 5-6 years after collection of baseline neurocognitive, biomedical, and psychosocial data. Mean age at our VETSA 2 follow-up will be 60 (57-66). Applications from 2 Principal Investigators (Kremen, UCSD;Lyons, Boston Univ.) comprise a single integrated project. Our focus is to characterize genetic and environmental influences on early age-related changes in cognitive effort and performance (Aims 1, 2), and to examine major factors that mediate or moderate those changes: APOE [Aim 3];other biomedical risks [Aim 4];lifestyle/psychosocial factors [Aim 5]).
Aims are: 1) Characterize genetic and environmental influences on cognitive change over time (and specific component processes driving change);2) Investigate cognitive efficiency (i.e., ratio of performance to effortful resource allocation [based on task-evoked pupillary responses]) as a key cognitive aging process;3) Examine the relationship of APOE genotype to changes in cognitive function over time;4) Elucidate biomedical risk factors related to cognition and identify specific health risk factors that best predict cognitive aging (with multivariate genetic models not previously used);5) Examine lifestyle and psychosocial factors related to cognitive aging. We will obtain comprehensive assessments in multiple domains, utilize a novel approach that integrates the twin method with experimental/neuroscience approaches of parsing cognitive component processes, and use a cost-effective psychophysiological method (pupillometry) to measure cognitive effort.

Public Health Relevance

VETSA 2 builds upon the unique resource of VETSA 1 and creates an invaluable resource for the study of change from midlife (an under-studied area) to early old age, and for understanding the interplay of biological and environmental factors that are key early predictors of declining or successful aging. The VETSA 2 project builds upon the unique resource of VETSA 1 and creates an invaluable resource for the study of midlife (an under-studied area) and for understanding the interplay of biological and environmental factors that are key determinants of successful aging.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01AG018384-09
Application #
8134310
Study Section
Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
Program Officer
Spotts, Erica L
Project Start
2000-07-01
Project End
2013-08-31
Budget Start
2011-09-01
Budget End
2012-08-31
Support Year
9
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$1,377,704
Indirect Cost
Name
Boston University
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
049435266
City
Boston
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02215
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Gustavson, Daniel E; Panizzon, Matthew S; Franz, Carol E et al. (2017) Genetic and Environmental Architecture of Executive Functions in Midlife. Neuropsychology :
Xian, Hong; Vasilopoulos, Terrie; Liu, Weijian et al. (2017) Steeper change in body mass across four decades predicts poorer cardiometabolic outcomes at midlife. Obesity (Silver Spring) 25:773-780
Vuoksimaa, Eero; Panizzon, Matthew S; Hagler Jr, Donald J et al. (2017) Heritability of white matter microstructure in late middle age: A twin study of tract-based fractional anisotropy and absolute diffusivity indices. Hum Brain Mapp 38:2026-2036
Gillespie, Nathan A; Neale, Michael C; Hagler Jr, Donald J et al. (2017) Genetic and environmental influences on mean diffusivity and volume in subcortical brain regions. Hum Brain Mapp 38:2589-2598
Elman, Jeremy A; Panizzon, Matthew S; Hagler Jr, Donald J et al. (2017) Task-evoked pupil dilation and BOLD variance as indicators of locus coeruleus dysfunction. Cortex 97:60-69
Brouwer, Rachel M; Panizzon, Matthew S; Glahn, David C et al. (2017) Genetic influences on individual differences in longitudinal changes in global and subcortical brain volumes: Results of the ENIGMA plasticity working group. Hum Brain Mapp 38:4444-4458
Elman, Jeremy A; Panizzon, Matthew S; Hagler Jr, Donald J et al. (2017) Genetic and environmental influences on cortical mean diffusivity. Neuroimage 146:90-99
Thompson, Paul M; Andreassen, Ole A; Arias-Vasquez, Alejandro et al. (2017) ENIGMA and the individual: Predicting factors that affect the brain in 35 countries worldwide. Neuroimage 145:389-408

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