Correlation between reading and mathematics at age 12 has a substantial genetic component

We know that there is a link between language and math.

We know that genes have a large influence on our abilities and math is heavily influenced by our genes.

So, bring in the new research published in Nature on a bit less twins than in the study mentioned above, they only looked at twins age group 12, that shows that there is a substantial genetic component to the correlation between reading and mathematics.

For the people who think that looking at the role of genes makes it all a bit too deterministic, to read the article (or if you’re lazy or just want to see the World Cup,… check the last sentence in the abstract).

Their conclusion:

Importantly, our analyses show that a substantial proportion of the observed correlation in reading and mathematics abilities is due to genetics. If a large proportion of the genetic factors that affect these traits are pleiotropic (producing more than one effect), then the factors that lead to differences in an individual’s abilities (or disabilities) are relatively more likely to be environmental. Understanding the aetiology (causes) of these patterns increases our chances of developing effective learning environments that will help individuals attain the highest level of literacy and numeracy, increasingly important skills in the modern world.

Abstract of the research (open access):

Dissecting how genetic and environmental influences impact on learning is helpful for maximizing numeracy and literacy. Here we show, using twin and genome-wide analysis, that there is a substantial genetic component to children’s ability in reading and mathematics, and estimate that around one half of the observed correlation in these traits is due to shared genetic effects (so-called Generalist Genes). Thus, our results highlight the potential role of the learning environment in contributing to differences in a child’s cognitive abilities at age twelve.

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