iTWIN is a collaboration between Karolinska Institutet, Indiana University (USA) and the University of Gothenburg. The purpose of the study is to understand the contribution of genes and environments to individual differences in attentional functions, assessed with eye tracking. Impairments in such functions are believed to be involved in the development of childhood psychiatric problems such as ADHD and autism.
Evidence suggests that impairments in attention underlie common childhood psychiatric problems such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD, both of which are highly heritable and associated with individual burden and societal costs. Eye movements are informative of attentional processes and can be reliably and efficiently assessed in children.
In iTWIN, we study eye movements in a large sample of phenotypically well-characterized twins. Information collected in this project will generate important knowledge about why children differ in their attentional functions, and how these differences relate to ASD and ADHD. Monozygotic and dizygotic twins, aged 9 to 12 years, will be recruited from the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS), and tested with non-intrusive eye tracking technology. We will map the heritability of key attentional networks and the specificity of the associations between these networks and various trait dimensions (e.g. autistic traits). Moreover, we will assess the degree to which such associations are explained by genetic and environmental factors. iTWIN has the potential to provide unique, new leads on pathological pathways in two of the most prevalent and costly psychiatric disorders in society today.