Genetic Variants affect Kids’ Reading and Math-Solving Ability

Genetic Variants affect Kids’ Reading and Math-Solving Ability

A twin study has led scientists to claim that genetic variants affect both math and reading skill traits. Researchers enrolled about 2,800 12-year-old twins in the Twins Early Development Study where the kids took both web-based and phone-based tests to show their math and reading skills. There were both identical and non-identical twin sets in the study. The researchers also took DNA samples for genetic testing.

The results clearly highlighted the importance of genetic component for skills related to reading and math. It was found that both math and reading skill traits were affected by about half of the genetic variants, which provided strong evidence that the scores were linked to a shared genetic basis.

Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2 project and a grant from the UK Medical Research Council provided the funding for the study, which was conducted in the United Kingdom and reported in Nature Communications.

The results of the study led the researchers to derive the conclusion that math and reading skills are pleiotropic, which means one gene, or a few single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), affect unrelated traits. Reading and performing mathematical tasks could be considered as unrelated traits because of being very different types of mental tasks.

Nearly half the genes responsible for mathematics ability also influence reading ability, said scientists from the University of Oxford and King's College London who led a study into the genetic basis of cognitive traits.

Dr. Chris Spencer from Oxford University said, "We're moving into a world where analyzing millions of DNA changes, in thousands of individuals, is a routine tool in helping scientists to understand aspects of human biology".


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