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Research

Twins Early Development Study (TEDS)

The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) is a large-scale longitudinal study of twins from early childhood through adolescence. The twins were assessed longitudinally at 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and currently 21 years of age in order to investigate genetic and environmental contributions to change and continuity in language, cognitive and academic abilities and behaviour problems from multivariate quantitative and molecular genetic perspectives. The twins were identified from birth records of twins born in England and Wales in 1994-96. More than 15,000 pairs of twins have been enrolled in TEDS and the participating families are representative of the UK population. TEDS data indicate that both genetic and environmental influences are important in nearly all areas of behavioural development. Multivariate genetic analyses allow researchers to go beyond this basic nature-nurture question and TEDS results suggest that especially in the area of learning abilities and disabilities, genes are generalist and environments are specialists. That is, genes largely contribute to similarity in performance within and between learning abilities and disabilities and across age, whereas the environment contributes to differences in performance.  

Quantitive genetic findings such as these chart the course for molecular genetic research. The TEDS dataset is proving valuable in genome-wide association research that tries to identify some of the many genes responsible for the ubiquitous heritability of behaviour.

 

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