The val/met polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene predicts decline in perceptual speed in older adults

Paolo Ghisletta, Lars Bäckman, Lars Bertram, Andreas Markus Brandmaier, Denis Gerstorf, Tian Liu, Ulman Lindenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promotes activity-dependent synaptic plasticity, and contributes to learning and memory. We investigated whether a common Val66Met missense polymorphism (rs6265) of the BDNF gene is associated with individual differences in cognitive decline (marked by perceptual speed) in old age. A total of 376 participants of the Berlin Aging Study, with a mean age of 83.9 years at first occasion, were assessed longitudinally up to 11 times across more than 13 years on the Digit-Letter task. Met carriers (n = 123, 34%) showed steeper linear decline than Val homozygotes (n = 239, 66%); the corresponding contrast explained 2.20% of the variance in change in the entire sample, and 3.41% after excluding individuals at risk for dementia. These effects were not moderated by sex or socioeconomic status. Results are consistent with the hypothesis that normal aging magnifies the effects of common genetic variation on cognitive functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-392
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology and aging
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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