09 July 2014

Study: influence of genes on maths and reading

An Oxford study examined the role of genes in the development of certain traits during childhood.


Both hereditary and environmental influences significantly impact the traits we grow up with, such as height, weight and IQ. 

A new study done by the University of Oxford and King’s College London, published in the journal Nature Communications, examined the role genes play in developing certain traits during childhood.

Scientists looked into a data pool called the Twins Early Development Study, which enrolled 12-year-old children from almost 2,800 British families. The scientists compared the twins and unrelated children to see how they would perform in maths and reading tests. They matched the children’s genomes, and found that about 50 percent of genes involved in reading were also involved in maths.

Read: Paediatricians urge parents to read aloud to kids

Additionally, the scientists found evidence indicating that many of the genes that affect children’s literacy skills also affect their mathematic abilities, with small variants influencing a child's aptitude in these tasks.

However, these abilities are not just determined by one’s genes; the environment a child grows up in, his schooling history and parenting all contribute to his academic performance.

Read: Reading a novel may change the brain

Furthermore, heritability does not imply that certain areas of academic performance are set in stone; it just means that parents will need to adjust their teaching methods for each individual child, focusing more on one subject than another.

Though researchers have recognized the gene variations, they are not sure what each variant does and how it affects the brain. Further research could help explain the influences of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, and common disorders, which are caused by many genes of very small effect size. 

Read more: 

Reading vs. lead poisoning
Babies can read each other's moods
Video games might help dyslexics with reading

Sources: The New Age, Yahoo, Discovery News, Business Insider and Medical Daily

Shutterstock photo: Pavel L Photo and Video




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