Education Is Associated With Higher Later Life IQ Scores, but Not With Faster Cognitive Processing Speed

Education Is Associated With Higher Later Life IQ Scores, but Not With Faster Cognitive Processing Speed

Stuart J. Ritchie and Timothy C. Bates
The University of Edinburgh

Geoff Der
The University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow

John M. Starr and Ian J. Deary
The University of Edinburgh

2013

Recent reports suggest a causal relationship between education and IQ, which has implications for cognitive development and aging – education may improve cognitive reserve. In two longitudinal cohorts, we tested the association between education and lifetime cognitive change. We then tested whether education is linked to improved scores on processing-speed variables such as reaction time, which are associated with both IQ and longevity. Controlling for childhood IQ score, we found that education was positively associated with IQ at ages 79 (Sample 1) and 70 (Sample 2), and more strongly for participants with lower initial IQ scores. Education, however, showed no significant association with processing speed, measured at ages 83 and 70. Increased education may enhance important later life cognitive capacities, but does not appear to improve more fundamental aspects of cognitive processing.

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Genetic and environmental contributions to population group differences on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices estimated from twins reared together and apart

Genetic and environmental contributions to population group differences on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices estimated from twins reared together and apart

J. Philippe Rushton, Trudy Ann Bons, Philip A. Vernon and Jelena Čvorović (2007)

We carried out two studies to test the hypothesis that genetic and environmental influences explain population group differences in general mental ability just as they do individual differences within a group. We estimated the heritability and environmentality of scores on the diagrammatic puzzles of the Raven’s Coloured and/or Standard Progressive Matrices (CPM/SPM) from two independent twin samples and correlated these estimates with group differences on the same items. In Study 1, 199 pairs of 5- to 7-year-old monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins reared together provided estimates of heritability and environmentality for 36 puzzles from the CPM. These estimates correlated with the differences between the twins and 94 Serbian Roma (both rs = 0.32; Ns = 36; ps < 0.05). In Study 2, 152 pairs of adult MZ and DZ twins reared apart provided estimates of heritability and environmentality for 58 puzzles from the SPM. These estimates correlated with the differences among 11 diverse samples including (i) the reared-apart twins, (ii) another sample of Serbian Roma, and (iii) East Asian, White, South Asian, Coloured and Black high school and university students in South Africa. In 55 comparisons, group differences were more pronounced on the more heritable and on the more environmental items (mean rs = 0.40 and 0.47, respectively; Ns = 58; ps < 0.05). After controlling for measurement reliability and variance in item pass rates, the heritabilities still correlated with the group differences, although the environmentalities did not. Puzzles found relatively difficult (or easy) by the twins were those found relatively difficult (or easy) by the others (mean r = 0.87). These results suggest that population group differences are part of the normal variation expected within a universal human cognition.

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Nature, nurture, and expertise

Nature, nurture, and expertise

Robert Plomin, Nicholas G. Shakeshaft, Andrew McMillan, Maciej Trzaskowski (2013)

Rather than investigating the extent to which training can improve performance under experimental conditions (‘what could be’), we ask about the origins of expertise as it exists in the world (‘what is’). We used the twin method to investigate the genetic and environmental origins of exceptional performance in reading, a skill that is a major focus of educational training in the early school years. Selecting reading experts as the top 5% from a sample of 10,000 12-year-old twins assessed on a battery of reading tests, three findings stand out. First, we found that genetic factors account for more than half of the difference in performance between expert and normal readers. Second, our results suggest that reading expertise is the quantitative extreme of the same genetic and environmental factors that affect reading performance for normal readers. Third, growing up in the same family and attending the same schools account for less than a fifth of the difference between expert and normal readers. We discuss implications and interpretations (‘what is inherited is DNA sequence variation’; ‘the abnormal is normal’). Finally, although there is no necessary relationship between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’, the most far-reaching issues about the acquisition of expertise lie at the interface between them (‘the nature of nurture: from a passive model of imposed environments to an active model of shaped experience’).

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