Heritability of semantic verbal fluency task using time-interval analysis

T. P. Taporoski, N. E. Duarte, S. Pompéia, A. Sterr, L. M. Gómez, R. O. Alvim, A. R.V.R. Horimoto, J. E. Krieger, H. Vallada, A. C. Pereira, M. von Schantz*, A. B. Negrão

*Corresponding author for this work

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Individual variability in word generation is a product of genetic and environmental influences. The genetic effects on semantic verbal fluency were estimated in 1,735 participants from the Brazilian Baependi Heart Study. The numbers of exemplars produced in 60 s were broken down into time quartiles because of the involvement of different cognitive processes—predominantly automatic at the beginning, controlled/executive at the end. Heritability in the unadjusted model for the 60-s measure was 0.32. The best-fit model contained age, sex, years of schooling, and time of day as covariates, giving a heritability of 0.21. Schooling had the highest moderating effect. The highest heritability (0.17) was observed in the first quartile, decreasing to 0.09, 0.12, and 0.0003 in the following ones. Heritability for average production starting point (intercept) was 0.18, indicating genetic influences for automatic cognitive processes. Production decay (slope), indicative of controlled processes, was not significant. The genetic influence on different quartiles of the semantic verbal fluency test could potentially be exploited in clinical practice and genome-wide association studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0217814
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


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