Date of Award

5-2008

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Mathematics and Statistics

First Advisor

Chris Corcoran

Abstract

The Cache County Memory Study (CCMS) is a longitudinal study of the elderly in Cache County, Utah, that was initiated over twelve years ago to explore the role of APOE genotype and other environmental factors in dementia risk and cognitive function. Collaboration between the CCMS and investigators with the Utah Population Database (UPDB) at the University of Utah has revealed a significant number of sibships among the original 5,092 CCMS participants, along with complex pedigrees that include additional thousands of ancestors and relatives not enrolled in the Cache Study. Information about these families and pedigrees raises the potential for studies of the genetic epidemiology of age-related traits. Until biological samples from the Cache cohort can be leveraged for genetic association studies of cognition, a useful first step is to explore the heritability of cognition and cognitive decline (i.e., the degree to which these quantitative traits are inherited).

The objectives of this project are to:

1. Compare and contrast results from previous studies of the heritability of cognition and cognitive change among the elderly.

2. Use software tools to compute heritability measures with respect to cognitive function for the nuclear families within the CCMS. Additionally account for potential confounding factors - such as APOE genotype and age - and explain their effects.

3. Identify potential methods for more complex analyses with the CCMS data that could include information about complex pedigrees and repeated cognitive measures.

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