The Michigan State University Twin Registry (MSUTR): an update

Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.
Twin Research and Human Genetics (Impact Factor: 2.3). 10/2012; 16(1):1-7. DOI: 10.1017/thg.2012.87
Source: PubMed


The primary aim of the Michigan State University Twin Registry (MSUTR) is on understanding developmental changes in genetic, environmental, and neurobiological influences on internalizing and externalizing disorders, with antisocial behavior and disordered eating representing our particular areas of interest. The MSUTR has two broad components: a large-scale, population-based registry of child, adolescent, and adult twins and their families (current N ~20,000) and a series of more focused and in-depth studies drawn from the registry (current N ~4,000). Participants in the population-based registry complete a family health and demographic questionnaire via mail. Families are then recruited for one or more of the intensive, in-person studies from the population-based registry based on their answers to relevant items in the registry questionnaire. These in-person assessments target a variety of biological, genetic, and environmental phenotypes, including multi-informant measures of psychiatric and behavioral phenotypes, census and neighborhood informant reports of twin neighborhood characteristics, buccal swab and salivary DNA samples, assays of adolescent and adult steroid hormone levels, and/or videotaped interactions of child twin families. This article provides an overview of the MSUTR and describes current and future research directions.

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Available from: S. Alexandra Burt, Jan 30, 2015
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    • "It is unclear whether the examination of youth self-report data would yield similar results, since adolescents have knowledge of covert antisocial acts that their parents and teachers do not (i.e., those they have successfully concealed). Consistent with this, children above age 11 typically report twice as many symptoms of conduct problems as do their parents (Burt et al. 2015; Hewitt et al. 1997; Rescorla et al. 2013). It would thus be important to constructively replicate these results using child reports. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although the phenomenology of overt or aggressive antisocial behavior during childhood is well-documented, far less is known about covert or non-aggressive, rule-breaking (RB) antisocial behavior. Gaps in knowledge include issues as basic as RB's typical symptom presentation during childhood and which symptoms differ across sex. The current study sought to fill these gaps in the literature by establishing the prevalence and psychometric properties of specific RB behaviors in a sample of 1022 twin boys and 1010 twin girls between the ages of 6 and 10 years. Legal RB behaviors (e.g., breaking rules, swears, lying or cheating) were present to varying degrees in most children, regardless of whether or not they passed the clinical threshold for RB. They were also more common in boys than in girls regardless of their clinical status. In sharp contrast, illegal RB behaviors (e.g., stealing, vandalism, setting fires) were rarely observed in typically-developing children, but were seen at moderate levels in boys and girls with clinically-significant levels of RB. Moreover, sex differences in illegal RB behaviors were observed only for those youth with clinically meaningful levels of RB. Such findings collectively imply that while legal RB behaviors can be found (albeit at different frequencies) in children with and without clinically meaningful levels of RB, illegal RB behaviors may function as relatively 'unambiguous' indicator of clinically-significant levels of RB.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 09/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10802-015-0076-x · 3.48 Impact Factor
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    • "Caucasian: 86.4% and 85.5%, African-American: 5.4% and 6.3% for the participating families and the local census, respectively). More detailed information regarding the design, recruitment procedures, representativeness and participation rates have been provided elsewhere (Burt & Klump, 2013a). The twins were 47.0% female and ranged in age from 6 to 10 years, although a small handful (n = 14 pairs) had turned 11 years old by the time the family participated [mean age for full sample = 8. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Prior research has suggested that, consistent with the diathesis-stress model of gene-environment interaction (G × E), parent-child conflict activates genetic influences on antisocial/externalizing behaviors during adolescence. It remains unclear, however, whether this model is also important during childhood, or whether the moderation of child conduct problems by negative/conflictive parenting is better characterized as a bioecological interaction, in which environmental influences are enhanced in the presence of environmental risk whereas genetic influences are expressed most strongly in their absence. The current study sought to distinguish between these possibilities, evaluating how the parent-child relationship moderates the etiology of childhood-onset conduct problems. Method: We conducted a series of 'latent G by measured E' interaction analyses, in which a measured environmental variable was allowed to moderate both genetic and environmental influences on child conduct problems. Participants included 500 child twin pairs from the Michigan State University Twin Registry (MSUTR). Results: Shared environmental influences on conduct problems were found to be several-fold larger in those with high levels of parent-child conflict as compared with those with low levels. Genetic influences, by contrast, were proportionally more influential at lower levels of conflict than at higher levels. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that, although the diathesis-stress form of G × E appears to underlie the relationship between parenting and conduct problems during adolescence, this pattern of moderation does not extend to childhood. Instead, results were more consistent with the bioecological form of G × E which postulates that, in some cases, genetic influences may be most fully manifested in the absence of environmental risk.
    Psychological Medicine 06/2013; 44(05):1-12. DOI:10.1017/S0033291713001190 · 5.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Negative urgency (i.e., the tendency to engage in rash action in response to negative affect) has emerged as a critical personality trait contributing to individual differences in binge eating. However, studies investigating the extent to which genetic and/or environmental influences underlie the effects of negative urgency on binge eating are lacking. Moreover, it remains unclear whether negative urgency-binge eating associations are simply a result of the well-established role of negative affect in the development/maintenance of binge eating. The current study addresses these gaps by examining phenotypic and etiologic associations between negative urgency, negative affect, and dysregulated eating (i.e., binge eating, emotional eating) in a sample of 222 same-sex female twin pairs from the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Negative urgency was significantly associated with both dysregulated eating symptoms, even after controlling for the effects of negative affect. Genetic factors accounted for the majority (62-77%) of this phenotypic association, although a significant proportion of this genetic covariation was due to genetic influences in common with negative affect. Nonshared environmental factors accounted for a relatively smaller (23-38%) proportion of the association, but these nonshared environmental effects were independent of negative affect. Findings suggest that the presence of emotion-based rash action, combined with high levels of negative affect, may significantly increase genetic risk for dysregulated eating. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Journal of Abnormal Psychology 01/2013; 122(2). DOI:10.1037/a0031250 · 4.86 Impact Factor
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