, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 359-370
Date: 21 Apr 2009

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

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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.