The contribution of twins to the study of cognitive ageing and dementia: The Older Australian Twins Study

Perminder S. Sachdev*, Teresa Lee, Wei Wen, David Ames, Amir H. Batouli, Jocelyn Bowden, Henry Brodaty, Elizabeth Chong, John Crawford, Kristan Kang, Karen Mather, Andrea Lammel, Melissa J. Slavin, Anbupalam Thalamuthu, Julian Trollor, Margie J. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The Older Australian Twins Study (OATS) is a major longitudinal study of twins, aged ≥ 65 years, to investigate genetic and environmental factors and their interactions in healthy brain ageing and neurocognitive disorders. The study collects psychiatric, neuropsychological, cardiovascular, metabolic, biochemical, neuroimaging, genomic and proteomic data, with two-yearly assessments, and is currently in its third wave. The initial cohort comprises 623 individuals (161 monozygotic and 124 dizygotic twin pairs; 1 MZ triplets; 27 single twins and 23 non-twin siblings), of whom 426 have had wave 2 assessment. A number of salient findings have emerged thus far which assist in the understanding of genetic contributions to cognitive functions such as processing speed, executive ability and episodic memory, and which support the brain reserve hypothesis. The heritability of brain structures, both cortical and subcortical, brain spectroscopic metabolites and markers of small vessel disease, such as lacunar infarction and white matter hyperintensities, have been examined and can inform future genetic investigations. Work on amyloid imaging and functional magnetic resonance imaging is proceeding and epigenetic studies are progressing. This internationally important study has the potential to inform research into cognitive ageing in the future, and offers an excellent resource for collaborative work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-747
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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