Mom Psych



Annie Murphy Paul: Why Floundering Makes Learning Better

TED: Sir Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity

PBS News: Bringing Babies to the Classroom to Teach Empathy, Prevent Bullying

Study Finds Possible Bias in High School Math Teachers

Head Impacts in College Sports May Reduce Learning in College Athletes

Catastrophic Head Injury Three Times Greater in High School versus Collegiate Football Players

Physically Fit Students Tend to Score Higher on Standardized Tests

The Neuroscience of Effort

Babies Brains Benefit from Music Lessons: Even Before They Can Walk and Talk

Chelsea's Beacon: An Online Magazine for Children

Find us on Google+
math and reading skills share genes




Same Genes Drive Maths and Reading Ability

July 8, 2014—Around half of the genes that influence how well a child can read also play a role in their mathematics ability, say scientists from UCL, the University of Oxford and King's College London who led a study into the genetic basis of cognitive traits.

While mathematics and reading ability are known to run in families, the complex system of genes affecting these traits is largely unknown. The finding deepens scientists' understanding of how nature and nurture interact, highlighting the important role that a child's learning environment may have on the development of reading and mathematics skills, and the complex, shared genetic basis of these cognitive traits.

The collaborative study, published today in Nature Communications as part of the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium, used data from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) to analyse the influence of genetics on the reading and mathematics performance of 12-year-old children from nearly 2,800 British families.

Twins and unrelated children were tested for reading comprehension and fluency, and answered mathematics questions based on the UK national curriculum. The information collected from these tests was combined with DNA data, showing a substantial overlap in the genetic variants that influence mathematics and reading.

First author Dr. Oliver Davis (UCL Genetics), said: "We looked at this question in two ways, by comparing the similarity of thousands of twins, and by measuring millions of tiny differences in their DNA. Both analyses show that similar collections of subtle DNA differences are important for reading and maths. However, it's also clear just how important our life experience is in making us better at one or the other. It's this complex interplay of nature and nurture as we grow up that shapes who we are."

Professor Robert Plomin (King's College London), who leads the TEDS study, and one of the senior authors, said: "This is the first time we estimate genetic influence on learning ability using DNA alone. The study does not point to specific genes linked to literacy or numeracy, but rather suggests that genetic influence on complex traits, like learning abilities, and common disorders, like learning disabilities, is caused by many genes of very small effect size. The study also confirms findings from previous twin studies that genetic differences among children account for most of the differences between children in how easily they learn to read and to do maths. Children differ genetically in how easy or difficult they find learning, and we need to recognise, and respect, these individual differences. Finding such strong genetic influence does not mean that there is nothing we can do if a child finds learning difficul—heritability does not imply that anything is set in stone—it just means it may take more effort from parents, schools and teachers to bring the child up to speed."

Dr Chris Spencer (Oxford University), lead author said: "We're moving into a world where analysing millions of DNA changes, in thousands of individuals, is a routine tool in helping scientists to understand aspects of human biology. This study used the technique to help investigate the overlap in the genetic component of reading and maths ability in children. Interestingly, the same method can be applied to pretty much any human trait, for example to identify new links between diseases and disorders, or the way in which people respond to treatments."



The correlation between reading and mathematics ability at age twelve has a substantial genetic component,” Oliver S. P. Davis, Gavin Band, Matti Pirinen, Claire M. A. Haworth, Emma L. Meaburn, Yulia Kovas, Nicole Harlaar, Sophia J. Docherty, Ken B. Hanscombe, Maciej Trzaskowski, Charles J. C. Curtis, Amy Strange, Colin Freeman,      Céline Bellenguez,   Zhan Su, Richard Pearson, Damjan Vukcevic,   Cordelia Langford, Panos Deloukas, Sarah Hunt, Emma Gray, Serge Dronov, Simon C. Potter,  Avazeh Tashakkori-Ghanbaria, Sarah Edkins,  Suzannah J. Bumpstead, Jenefer M. Blackwell, Elvira Bramon, Matthew A. Brown, Juan P. Casas, Aiden Corvin, Audrey Duncanson, Janusz A. Z. Jankowski, Hugh S. Markus, Christopher G. Mathew, Colin N. A. Palmer, Anna Rautanen, Stephen J. Sawcer, Richard C. Trembath, Ananth C. Viswanathan, Nicholas W. Wood, Ines Barroso, Leena Peltonen, Philip S. Dale, Stephen A. Petrill, Leonard S. Schalkwyk, Ian W. Craig, Cathryn M. Lewis, Thomas S. Price, The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Peter Donnelly, Robert Plomin & Chris C. A. Spencer. Nature Communications 5, Article number: 4204 doi:10.1038/ncomms5204. Received 04 September 2013 Accepted 23 May 2014 Published 08 July 2014.





Press materials provided by University College London.


Django Productions About Us |Privacy Policy |Submission Policy | Contact Us | ©2003 Mom Psych