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 #
5R01AG018384-10
Application #
8318668
Study Section
Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
Program Officer
King, Jonathan W
Project Start
2000-07-01
Project End
2014-08-31
Budget Start
2012-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
10
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$569,557
Indirect Cost
$188,193
Name
Boston University
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
049435266
City
Boston
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02215
Vuoksimaa, Eero; Panizzon, Matthew S; Hagler Jr, Donald J et al. (2016) Heritability of white matter microstructure in late middle age: A twin study of tract-based fractional anisotropy and absolute diffusivity indices. Hum Brain Mapp :
Reynolds, Chandra A; Gatz, Margaret; Christensen, Kaare et al. (2016) Gene-Environment Interplay in Physical, Psychological, and Cognitive Domains in Mid to Late Adulthood: Is APOE a Variability Gene? Behav Genet 46:4-19
Franz, Carol E; Finkel, Deborah; Panizzon, Matthew S et al. (2016) Facets of Subjective Health From Early Adulthood to Old Age. J Aging Health :
Fennema-Notestine, Christine; McEvoy, Linda K; Notestine, Randy et al. (2016) White matter disease in midlife is heritable, related to hypertension, and shares some genetic influence with systolic blood pressure. Neuroimage Clin 12:737-745
Vuoksimaa, Eero; Panizzon, Matthew S; Chen, Chi-Hua et al. (2016) Is bigger always better? The importance of cortical configuration with respect to cognitive ability. Neuroimage 129:356-66
Román, Francisco J; Lewis, Lindsay B; Chen, Chi-Hua et al. (2016) Gray matter responsiveness to adaptive working memory training: a surface-based morphometry study. Brain Struct Funct 221:4369-4382
Jelenkovic, Aline; Hur, Yoon-Mi; Sund, Reijo et al. (2016) Genetic and environmental influences on adult human height across birth cohorts from 1886 to 1994. Elife 5:
Petkus, Andrew J; Reynolds, Chandra A; Wetherell, Julie Loebach et al. (2016) Anxiety is associated with increased risk of dementia in older Swedish twins. Alzheimers Dement 12:399-406
Petersen, Inge; Pedersen, Nancy L; Rantanen, Taina et al. (2016) G×E Interaction Influences Trajectories of Hand Grip Strength. Behav Genet 46:20-30
Petkus, Andrew J; Gatz, Margaret; Reynolds, Chandra A et al. (2016) Stability of Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Anxiety Symptoms in Older Adulthood. Behav Genet 46:492-505

Showing the most recent 10 out of 95 publications