The twin study design is considered the best method to determine the relative contributions of genetics and the environment for the cause of a disease from an observational study.
The Significance of Twins Research
In relation to brain health and ageing and dementia, twins research has been significant in determining the proportion of risk of Alzheimer’s disease that can be attributed to our genetic makeup – compared to the proportion that can be attributed to lifestyle. Twin research looks at both identical (monozygotic) and non-identical (dizygotic) twins and takes advantage of the fact that identical twins share 100% of their genetic code, whereas non-identical twins share only approximately 50%.
By studying twins, we have been able to identify that approximately 60% of risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is attributable to the genes we are born with.
The Older Australian Twins Study (OATS) began in 2007 to investigate genetic and environmental differences and how they relate to either healthy brain ageing or age-related neurocognitive disorders. It is the longest running and most comprehensive study of older twins in Australia and one of the most significant internationally.
OATS therefore continues to provide a unique opportunity to identify which specific factors contribute to health outcomes in older age, and how salient they are.
Learn more about the Older Australian Twins Study at the OATS Project Page
In the Words of our Participants
"I could do it at my own speed, and at a time that suited me, made it very flexible."
Mr Christopher Lovell
"It was a good idea. Doing it online is easier than paperwork. It was easier to answer, straight forward and there were no difficult questions. There were some technical things I had difficulty with and I called Amanda about it and she helped me."
Mr Peter Jones
"The process was interesting and it was almost a fun activity overall."
Mr Alexander Baitch
"I found it was all done really well. I found it easy to understand what was expected and how much time I’d have to give."
Ms Diane Winter
"I think it’s a great study and absolutely what we need as the population gets older. I think it’s really important to improve quality of life rather than quantity."
Ms Elizabeth Jessop