Twins are very special as they allow researchers to look at how “nature” (our genetic makeup, or genes) and “nurture” (our experiences) affect different human characteristics (such as our personalities or how tall we are).
Most of our characteristics are caused by both our genes and our environment, but it is difficult to work out how much a characteristic is caused by nature and how much of it is caused by nurture. For example, I love cheese, but is this because I was born with a love of cheese, or because half of my family are French and I grew up surrounded by lots of cheese so acquired a taste for it?! Studying twins can help us to find out the answers to questions like these.
We have created a short video to explain why twins help us understand more about how nature and nurture influence our characteristics:
Twin research has increased our understanding of human nature and changed the way we talk about the complex relationship between nature (genes) and nurture (environment). Twin research has also led to breakthroughs in molecular genetic research that has the potential to change the course of disease treatment.
Twins are a hugely valuable tool for researchers to establish the lay of the land in relation to the complexity of human nature. Here in Gemini we have made important discoveries about how genes and the environment influence our appetites and growth in childhood. If you would like to read more about our research visit our publications section.
You can also keep up-to-date with all things Gemini by following us on twitter: @GeminiResearch