Genetic architecture of declarative memory: Implications for complex illnesses

Carrie E. Bearden, Katherine H. Karlsgodt, Peter Bachman, Theo G.M. Van Erp, Anderson M. Winkler, David C. Glahn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Why do memory abilities vary so greatly across individuals and cognitive domains? Although memory functions are highly heritable, what exactly is being genetically transmitted? Here we review evidence for the contribution of both common and partially independent inheritance of distinct aspects of memory function. We begin by discussing the assessment of long-term memory and its underlying neural and molecular basis. We then consider evidence for both specialist and generalist genes underlying individual variability in memory, indicating that carving memory into distinct subcomponents may yield important information regarding its genetic architecture. And finally we review evidence from both complex and single-gene disorders, which provide insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the genetic basis of human memory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-532
Number of pages17
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer disease
  • declarative memory
  • heritability
  • neurofibromatosis I
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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