Working memory and parent-rated components of attention in middle childhood: A behavioral genetic study

Zhe Wang, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Laurie Cutting, Lee A. Thompson, Stephen A. Petrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The purpose of the current study was to investigate potential genetic and environmental correlations between working memory and three behavioral aspects of the attention network (i.e., executive, alerting, and orienting) using a twin design. Data were from 90 monozygotic (39% male) and 112 same-sex dizygotic (41% male) twins. Individual differences in working memory performance (digit span) and parent-rated measures of executive, alerting, and orienting attention included modest to moderate genetic variance, modest shared environmental variance, and modest to moderate nonshared environmental variance. As hypothesized, working memory performance was correlated with executive and alerting attention, but not orienting attention. The correlation between working memory, executive attention, and alerting attention was completely accounted for by overlapping genetic covariance, suggesting a common genetic mechanism or mechanisms underlying the links between working memory and certain parent-rated indicators of attentive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral genetics
  • Middle childhood
  • Parent-rated attention
  • Twins
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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