Accessing the development and heritability of the capacity of cognitive control

Yu Chen, Caiqi Chen, Tingting Wu, Boyu Qiu, Wei Zhang, Jin Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Cognitive control serves as a core construct, with limited capacity, to support executive functions and other higher-level mental processes such as intellectual activity. Although previous studies have investigated the development of executive functions during specific age periods, the development of the capacity of cognitive control (CCC) from early childhood to late adolescence and the heritability of the CCC have yet to be delineated. In this study, we estimated the CCC based on the performance of a perceptual decision-making task in monozygotic (n = 95) and dizygotic (n = 81) twin pairs with an age range from 6 to 18 years and in a reference young adult group (n = 41, mean age = 26.15 years). In addition, the intelligence quotient (IQ) of these participants was assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. We found an increase in the CCC from 1.55 bits per second (bps) at age 6 years to its 95% capacity of 3.87 bps at age 21 years, with a reduced growth rate as a function of age. The estimated heritability of the CCC was 0.66, and shared and non-shared environmental influences on the CCC were 0.18 and 0.16, respectively. The CCC was significantly correlated to IQ (r = 0.34). These findings indicate that the CCC is developed throughout the school years, is highly heritable, and is associated with higher-level cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107361
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive control
  • Development
  • Heritability
  • Intellectual ability
  • The capacity of cognitive control


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