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Same Genes are Responsible for Reading and Math Skills, Study Finds

Update Date: Jul 08, 2014 11:07 AM EDT
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According to a new study, the genes that are responsible for children's reading skills play a huge factor in the children's mathematical abilities as well. The latest research out of University College London (UCL), the University of Oxford and King's College London suggests that genetics play a huge factor in children's intelligence.

Researchers have constantly studied the effects of nature versus nurture on children's intelligence. For this study, the team examined the influence of genetics on the reading and mathematical abilities in 12-year-old children. The children came from almost 2,800 British families. The researchers used the United Kingdom's national curriculum to test the children's reading comprehension, fluency, and mathematical skills.

The team compared twins and unrelated children and discovered that there was a significant amount of overlap when they examined the genetic variants tied to reading and math. This finding suggests that the genes tied to improved reading skills are also linked to better mathematical abilities.

"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 math. 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," first author Dr. Oliver Davis (UCL Genetics), said according to the press release.

Dr. Chris Spencer, lead author from Oxford University, added, "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. This study used the technique to help investigate the overlap in the genetic component of reading and math 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 study was published in Nature Communications.

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