Visual analysis of geocoded twin data puts nature and nurture on the map

O. S P Davis*, C. M A Haworth, C. M. Lewis, R. Plomin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Twin studies allow us to estimate the relative contributions of nature and nurture to human phenotypes by comparing the resemblance of identical and fraternal twins. Variation in complex traits is a balance of genetic and environmental influences; these influences are typically estimated at a population level. However, what if the balance of nature and nurture varies depending on where we grow up? Here we use statistical and visual analysis of geocoded data from over 6700 families to show that genetic and environmental contributions to 45 childhood cognitive and behavioral phenotypes vary geographically in the United Kingdom. This has implications for detecting environmental exposures that may interact with the genetic influences on complex traits, and for the statistical power of samples recruited for genetic association studies. More broadly, our experience demonstrates the potential for collaborative exploratory visualization to act as a lingua franca for large-scale interdisciplinary research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-874
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012


  • environmental exposure
  • epidemiology
  • geocoding
  • statistical genetics
  • twin study
  • visualization

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