The heritability of the skin conductance orienting response: A longitudinal twin study

Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, United States.
Biological psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 09/2011; 89(1):47-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.09.003
Source: PubMed


The orienting response is a widely used experimental paradigm that reflects the association between electrodermal activity and psychological processes. The present study examined the genetic and environmental etiology of skin conductance orienting response (SCOR) magnitude in a sample of twins assessed at ages 9-10, 11-13 and 14-16 years. Structural equation modeling at each visit showed that genetic influences explained 56%, 83%, and 48% of the total variance in SCOR at visits 1, 2, and 3, respectively, with the remaining variance explained by non-shared environmental factors. SCOR was moderately stable across ages, with phenotypic correlations between time points ranging from .35 to .45. A common genetic factor explained 36%, 45% and 49% of the variance in SCOR magnitude across development. Additional age-specific genetic effects were found at ages 9-10 and 11-13 years, explaining 18% and 35% of the variance, respectively. The genetic correlations among the three time points were high, ranging from .55 to .73, indicating a substantial continuity in genetic influences from ages 9 to 16. These findings suggest that genetic factors are important influences in SCOR magnitude during late childhood and adolescence.

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