ABSTRACT: Specific cognitive abilities in diverse domains are typically found to be highly heritable and substantially correlated with general cognitive ability (g), both phenotypically and genetically. Recent twin studies have found the ability to memorize and recognize faces to be an exception, being similarly heritable but phenotypically substantially uncorrelated both with g and with general object recognition. However, the genetic relationships between face recognition and other abilities (the extent to which they share a common genetic etiology) cannot be determined from phenotypic associations. In this, to our knowledge, first study of the genetic associations between face recognition and other domains, 2,000 18- and 19-year-old United Kingdom twins completed tests assessing their face recognition, object recognition, and general cognitive abilities. Results confirmed the substantial heritability of face recognition (61%), and multivariate genetic analyses found that most of this genetic influence is unique and not shared with other cognitive abilities.
Project description:Compared with notable successes in the genetics of basic sensory transduction, progress on the genetics of higher level perception and cognition has been limited. We propose that investigating specific cognitive abilities with well-defined neural substrates, such as face recognition, may yield additional insights. In a twin study of face recognition, we found that the correlation of scores between monozygotic twins (0.70) was more than double the dizygotic twin correlation (0.29), evidence for a high genetic contribution to face recognition ability. Low correlations between face recognition scores and visual and verbal recognition scores indicate that both face recognition ability itself and its genetic basis are largely attributable to face-specific mechanisms. The present results therefore identify an unusual phenomenon: a highly specific cognitive ability that is highly heritable. Our results establish a clear genetic basis for face recognition, opening this intensively studied and socially advantageous cognitive trait to genetic investigation.
Project description:While a number of studies have found that an improvement in object shape recognition is associated with language growth in infants and toddlers, no published studies have investigated the longitudinal relation between early shape recognition, and language abilities in later childhood. An electrophysiological measure of semantic processing (the N400) was used to assess shape recognition and general object recognition in a naming context in 20-month-olds. The measures of shape recognition strongly predicted language and cognitive abilities at 6-7 years even after controlling for toddler vocabulary size. The electrophysiological measures of general object recognition were not related to future language or cognitive abilities. These results suggest that early shape recognition abilities may play a role in language acquisition and influence even long-term language outcomes.
Project description:Most studies on the development of face cognition abilities have focussed on childhood, with early maturation accounts contending that face cognition abilities are mature by 3-5 years. Late maturation accounts, in contrast, propose that some aspects of face cognition are not mature until at least 10 years. Here, we measured face memory and face perception, two core face cognition abilities, in 661 participants (397 females) in four age groups (younger adolescents (11.27-13.38 years); mid-adolescents (13.39-15.89 years); older adolescents (15.90-18.00 years); and adults (18.01-33.15 years)) while controlling for differences in general cognitive ability. We showed that both face cognition abilities mature relatively late, at around 16 years, with a female advantage in face memory, but not in face perception, both in adolescence and adulthood. Late maturation in the face perception task was driven mainly by protracted development in identity perception, while gaze perception abilities were already comparatively mature in early adolescence. These improvements in the ability to memorize, recognize and perceive faces during adolescence may be related to increasing exploratory behaviour and exposure to novel faces during this period of life.
Project description:Individual differences in face recognition are often contrasted with differences in object recognition using a single object category. Likewise, individual differences in perceptual expertise for a given object domain have typically been measured relative to only a single category baseline. In Experiment 1, we present a new test of object recognition, the Vanderbilt Expertise Test (VET), which is comparable in methods to the Cambridge Face Memory Task (CFMT) but uses eight different object categories. Principal component analysis reveals that the underlying structure of the VET can be largely explained by two independent factors, which demonstrate good reliability and capture interesting sex differences inherent in the VET structure. In Experiment 2, we show how the VET can be used to separate domain-specific from domain-general contributions to a standard measure of perceptual expertise. While domain-specific contributions are found for car matching for both men and women and for plane matching in men, women in this sample appear to use more domain-general strategies to match planes. In Experiment 3, we use the VET to demonstrate that holistic processing of faces predicts face recognition independently of general object recognition ability, which has a sex-specific contribution to face recognition. Overall, the results suggest that the VET is a reliable and valid measure of object recognition abilities and can measure both domain-general skills and domain-specific expertise, which were both found to depend on the sex of observers.
Project description:Spatial abilities encompass several skills differentiable from general cognitive ability (<i>g</i>). Importantly, spatial abilities have been shown to be significant predictors of many life outcomes, even after controlling for <i>g.</i> To date, no studies have analyzed the genetic architecture of diverse spatial abilities using a multivariate approach. We developed "gamified" measures of diverse putative spatial abilities. The battery of 10 tests was administered online to 1,367 twin pairs (age 19-21) from the UK-representative Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). We show that spatial abilities constitute a single factor, both phenotypically and genetically, even after controlling for <i>g</i> This spatial ability factor is highly heritable (69%). We draw three conclusions: (<i>i</i>) The high heritability of spatial ability makes it a good target for gene-hunting research; (<i>ii</i>) some genes will be specific to spatial ability, independent of <i>g</i>; and (<i>iii</i>) these genes will be associated with all components of spatial ability.
Project description:There is substantial evidence for individual differences in personality and cognitive abilities, but we lack clear intuitions about individual differences in visual abilities. Previous work on this topic has typically compared performance with only 2 categories, each measured with only 1 task. This approach is insufficient for demonstration of domain-general effects. Most previous work has used familiar object categories, for which experience may vary between participants and categories, thereby reducing correlations that would stem from a common factor. In Study 1, we adopted a latent variable approach to test for the first time whether there is a domain-general object recognition ability, o. We assessed whether shared variance between latent factors representing performance for each of 5 novel object categories could be accounted for by a single higher-order factor. On average, 89% of the variance of lower-order factors denoting performance on novel object categories could be accounted for by a higher-order factor, providing strong evidence for o. Moreover, o also accounted for a moderate proportion of variance in tests of familiar object recognition. In Study 2, we assessed whether the strong association across categories in object recognition is due to third-variable influences. We find that o has weak to moderate associations with a host of cognitive, perceptual, and personality constructs and that a clear majority of the variance in and covariance between performance on different categories is independent of fluid intelligence. This work provides the first demonstration of a reliable, specific, and domain-general object recognition ability, and suggest a rich framework for future work in this area. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>Symptoms of psychopathology covary across diagnostic boundaries, and a family history of elevated symptoms for a single psychiatric disorder places an individual at heightened risk for a broad range of other psychiatric disorders. Both twin-based and genome-wide molecular methods indicate a strong genetic basis for the familial aggregation of psychiatric disease. This has led researchers to prioritize the search for highly heritable childhood risk factors for transdiagnostic psychopathology. Cognitive abilities that involve the selective control and regulation of attention, known as executive functions (EFs), are a promising set of risk factors.<h4>Method</h4>In a population-based sample of child and adolescent twins (n = 1,913, mean age = 13.1 years), we examined genetic overlap between both EFs and general intelligence (g) and a transdiagnostic dimension of vulnerability to psychopathology, comprising symptoms of anxiety, depression, neuroticism, aggression, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, hyperactivity, and inattention. Psychopathology symptoms in children were rated by children and their parents.<h4>Results</h4>Latent factors representing general EF and g were highly heritable (h<sup>2</sup> = 86%-92%), and genetic influences on both sets of cognitive abilities were robustly correlated with transdiagnostic genetic influences on psychopathology symptoms (genetic r values ranged from -0.20 to -0.38).<h4>Conclusion</h4>General EF and g robustly index genetic risk for transdiagnostic symptoms of psychopathology in childhood. Delineating the developmental and neurobiological mechanisms underlying observed associations between cognitive abilities and psychopathology remains a priority for ongoing research.
Project description:We investigated the relationships between individual differences in different aspects of face-identity processing, using the Glasgow Face Matching Test (GFMT) as a measure of unfamiliar face perception, the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT) as a measure of new face learning, and the Before They Were Famous task (BTWF) as a measure of familiar face recognition. These measures were integrated into two separate studies examining the relationship between face processing and other tasks. For Study 1 we gathered participants' subjective ratings of their own face perception abilities. In Study 2 we used additional measures of perceptual and cognitive abilities, and personality factors to place individual differences in a broader context. Performance was significantly correlated across the three face-identity tasks in both studies, suggesting some degree of commonality of underlying mechanisms. For Study 1 the participants' self-ratings correlated poorly with performance, reaching significance only for judgements of familiar face recognition. In Study 2 there were few associations between face tasks and other measures, with task-level influences seeming to account for the small number of associations present. In general, face tasks correlated with each other, but did not show an overall relation with other perceptual, cognitive or personality tests. Our findings are consistent with the existence of a general face-perception factor, able to account for around 25% of the variance in scores. However, other relatively task-specific influences are also clearly operating.
Project description:The issue of the face specificity of recognition deficits in developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is fundamental to the organization of high-level visual memory and has been increasingly debated in recent years. Previous DP investigations have found some evidence of object recognition impairments, but have almost exclusively used familiar objects (e.g. cars), where performance may depend on acquired object-specific experience and related visual expertise. An object recognition test not influenced by experience could provide a better, less contaminated measure of DPs' object recognition abilities. To investigate this, in the current study we tested 30 DPs and 30 matched controls on a novel object memory test (NOMT Ziggerins) and the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT). DPs with severe impairment on the CFMT showed no differences in accuracy or reaction times compared with controls on the NOMT. We found similar results when comparing DPs with a larger sample of 274 web-based controls. Additional individual analyses demonstrated that the rate of object recognition impairment in DPs did not differ from the rate of impairment in either control group. Together, these results demonstrate unimpaired object recognition in DPs for a class of novel objects that serves as a powerful index for broader novel object recognition capacity.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Youth with psychiatric disorders distinguished by irritability, including depression and associated trait neuroticism, show deficits in the ability to recognize facial expressions of emotion, particularly happiness. However, the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to this ability remains unknown. The present study examined this trait in twins to assess the genetic and environmental influences on face-emotion recognition abilities and their association with irritability, neuroticism, and depression. METHOD:Child and adolescent twins (N = 957 from 496 families) 9 to 17 years old rated their irritability (on the Affective Reactivity Index), neuroticism (on the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire), and depression (on the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire) and completed a face-emotion labeling task. Faces depicting anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise were morphed with a neutral face, yielding 10 levels of increasing emotional expressivity. Biometrical twin analyses evaluated contributions of genetic and environmental factors to the etiology of face-emotion recognition and its association with irritability, neuroticism, and depression. RESULTS:Recognition of each emotion was heritable; common and specific sets of genetic factors influenced all emotions and individual emotions, respectively. Irritability, neuroticism, and depression were modestly and negatively correlated with emotion recognition, particularly the recognition of happiness. For irritability and neuroticism, this correlation appeared largely due to genetic factors. CONCLUSION:This study maps genetic and environmental contributions to face-emotion recognition and its association with irritability, neuroticism, and depression. Findings implicate common genetic factors in deficits regarding the recognition of happiness associated with irritability and neuroticism in childhood and adolescence.