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Genetic influences on handedness: Data from 25,732 Australian and Dutch twin families


Medland, SE and Duffy, DL and Wright, MJ and Geffen, GM and Hay, DA and Levy, F and van-Beijsterveldt, CEM and Willemsen, G and White, V and Hewitt, A and Mackey, DA and Bailey, JM and Slutske, WS and Nyholt, DR and Treloar, SA and Martin, NG and Boomsman, DI, Genetic influences on handedness: Data from 25,732 Australian and Dutch twin families, Neuropsychologia: An International Journal in Behavioural Neuroscience, 47, (2) pp. 330-337. ISSN 0028-3932 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.09.005


Handedness refers to a consistent asymmetry in skill or preferential use between the hands and is related to lateralization within the brain of other functions such as language. Previous twin studies of handedness have yielded inconsistent results resulting from a general lack of statistical power to find significant effects. Here we present analyses from a large international collaborative study of handedness (assessed by writing/drawing or self report) in Australian and Dutch twins and their siblings (54,270 individuals from 25,732 families). Maximum likelihood analyses incorporating the effects of known covariates (sex, year of birth and birth weight) revealed no evidence of hormonal transfer, mirror imaging or twin specific effects. There were also no differences in prevalence between zygosity groups or between twins and their singleton siblings. Consistent with previous meta-analyses, additive genetic effects accounted for about a quarter (23.64%) of the variance (95%CI 20.17, 27.09%) with the remainder accounted for by non-shared environmental influences. The implications of these findings for handedness both as a primary phenotype and as a covariate in linkage and association analyses are discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Asymmetry; Behavioral genetics; Extended twin family design; Laterality; Left-handed
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Ophthalmology and optometry
Research Field:Ophthalmology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Hewitt, A (Professor Alex Hewitt)
UTAS Author:Mackey, DA (Professor David Mackey)
ID Code:95297
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:185
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2014-09-29
Last Modified:2014-09-29

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