Speed of information processing as measured by reaction times (RTs) in elementary cognitive tasks (ECTs) has been found to be an important correlate of human psychometric intelligence. While the heritability of psychometric intelligence is quite well understood we know only little about the genetic and environmental influences on ECT performance and especially about the genetic and environmental contribution to the ECT-intelligence relation. These questions were studied by employing two widely used ECTs (Sternberg’s memory scanning and Posner’s letter matching task) as well as two psychometric intelligence tests (Advanced Progressive Matrices and Leistungs-Prüf-System) in a large sample of 169 monozygotic (MZ) and 131 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs. As expected, RTs were negatively correlated with psychometric intelligence. Moreover, heritability estimates were substantial for both psychometric intelligence and reaction times in ECTs. Finally, multivariate genetic analyses suggested that most of the phenotypic correlation between mental speed and intelligence is due to genetic factors.
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