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Early Literacy Skill May Predict Future Intelligence

Update Date: Jul 24, 2014 07:58 PM EDT

Teaching children to read at an earlier age makes them smarter, according to a new study on identical twins.

Investigators at the University of Edinburgh and King's College London found that possessing stronger early reading skills could predict higher intelligence later in life.

"Since reading is an ability that can be improved, our findings have implications for reading instruction," lead researcher Stuart J. Ritchie, research fellow in psychology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a news release. "Early remediation of reading problems might aid not only the growth of literacy, but also more general cognitive abilities that are of critical importance across the lifespan."

After analyzing scores from reading and intelligence tests of 1.890 identical twins participating in the Twins Early Development Study, researchers found a link between difference in reading ability and later intelligence. Researchers said that the latest findings reveal the importance of teaching children how to read early. They explain that any difference found in the twin study had to be produced by nurture as identical twins share all their genes.

"If, as our results imply, reading causally influences intelligence, the implications for educators are clear," suggests Ritchie. "Children who don't receive enough assistance in learning to read may also be missing out on the important, intelligence-boosting properties of literacy."

The findings are published in the journal Child Development.

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