25th APS Annual Convention: Mark Your Calendar (Washington, DC, USA - May 23-26, 2013)


New Research on the Biological and Genetic Basis of Intelligence

Friday, May 24, 2013, 10:30 AM - 11:50 AM
Wilson A

Chair: Con Stough
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Recent research on human intelligence is focussing on understanding neural, pharmacological and biological mechanisms that relate to cognition and changes in cognition. In this symposium we present three presentations ranging from behavioural and molecular genetics, psychopharmacology and linkages between cognition and cardiovascular functioning.

Subject Area: Biological/Neuroscience

Social-status dependent heritability of intelligence: mechanisms linking molecular-genetic differences and environment.
Timothy C. Bates
The University of Edinburgh
How do gene and environment interactions cause intelligence differences among adults? Among children, the importance of genes grows with increasing socioeconomic status (SES). Data from two new data sources are presented. The first contrasts genetic influences in high- and low-welfare nations. Genetic effects were uniform and strong in the former, but were entirely interactive with SES in a richer, but lower social welfare nation. Next, at a molecular level, data on association of IQ with multi-gene pathways influencing the synaptic plasticity in representing the environment is presented. Genes appear to multiply environmental inputs supportive of intellectual growth. This links SES to increases in mean intelligence, but predicts magnified individual differences in intelligence with increasing SES.

The role of aortic blood pressure in determining cognitive ability
Matthew Pase
Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University
Blood pressure is traditionally measured from the brachial artery yet blood pressure varies throughout the arterial system. Aortic blood pressures may be more relevant to the study of brain function given that the brain receives pressure flow from the aorta and carotids rather than the arteries of the arm. Pulse pressure amplification reflects the augmentation of blood pressure between the aorta and periphery, which diminishes with aging. Amplification and aortic systolic pressure predict cardiovascular outcomes, yet their association with cognitive ability has not been studied. The aim of this study was to investigate the cross-sectional association between aortic blood pressure and cognitive ability in independently living adults aged 20-82 years (N=493). Cognitive ability was measured using the Swinburne University Computerized Cognitive Assessment Battery (SUCCAB) and aortic blood pressures were non-invasively derived using applanation tonometry. In adjusted regression models, higher aortic systolic pressure and lower amplification were each independently associated with both poorer Processing Speed and Memory Accuracy. Higher aortic pulse pressure was associated with poorer Processing Speed only. Brachial blood pressures were not associated with any cognitive abilities. In conclusion, aortic blood pressure and pulse pressure amplification were better predictors of cognitive ability than brachial blood pressures.

Co-Author: Con Stough, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University

Co-Author: Natalie Grima

Co-Author: Elizabeth Harris

Co-Author: Helen Macpherson

Co-Author: Andrew Pipingas

Co-Author: Andrew Scholey

Improving cognition in the elderly with targeted nutritional interventions
Con Stough
Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University
In order to reduce cognitive ageing, the ARC longevity intervention (ARCLI) was developed to examine the effects of two promising natural pharmacologically active supplements on cognitive performance. ARCLI is a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, 3-arm clinical trial in which 465 participants will be randomized to receive 3 different nutritional formulations, or placebo daily for 12 months. Participants will be tested at baseline and then at 3, 6 and 12 months post-randomization on a wide battery of cognitive, neuropsychological and mood measures, cardiovascular (brachial and aortic systolic and diastolic blood pressures as well as arterial stiffness), biochemical (assays to measure inflammation, oxidative stress and safety) as well as genetic assessments (telomere length and several Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms). The primary aim is to investigate the effects of these supplements on cognitive performance. The secondary aims are to explore the time-course of cognitive enhancement as well as potential cardiovascular and biochemical mechanisms underpinning cognitive enhancement over the 12 months of administration. ARCLI will represent one of the largest and most comprehensive experimental clinical trials in which supplements are administered to elderly participants. Results from ARCLI may help develop novel preventative health practices and nutritional/pharmacological targets in the elderly for cognitive and brain health.

Co-Author: Andrew Scholey, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University

Co-Author: Matthew Pase

Co-Author: Karen Savage

Co-Author: Karen Nolidin

Co-Author: Andrew Pipingas

Earl Hunt (Discussant)
University of Washington

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