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A Twin Study of the Genetics of High Cognitive Ability Selected from 11,000 Twin Pairs in Six Studies from Four Countries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Claire M. A. Haworth, Margaret J. Wright, Nicolas W. Martin, Nicholas G. Martin, Dorret I. Boomsma, Meike Bartels, Danielle Posthuma, Oliver S. P. Davis, Angela M. Brant, Robin P. Corley, John K. Hewitt, William G. Iacono, Matthew McGue, Lee A. Thompson, Sara A. Hart, Stephen A. Petrill, David Lubinski, Robert Plomin

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359 - 370
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

King's Authors


Although much genetic research has addressed normal variation in intelligence, little is known about the etiology of high cognitive abilities. Using data from 11,000 twin pairs (age range = 6-71 years) from the genetics of high cognitive abilities consortium, we investigated the genetic and environmental etiologies of high general cognitive ability (g). Age-appropriate psychometric cognitive tests were administered to the twins and used to create g scores standardized within each study. Liability-threshold model fitting was used to estimate genetic and environmental parameters for the top 15% of the distribution of g. Genetic influence for high g was substantial (0.50, with a 95% confidence interval of 0.41-0.60). Shared environmental influences were moderate (0.28, 0.19-0.37). We conclude that genetic variation contributes substantially to high g in Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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