Skills in maths, reading shared by same genes

July 09, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

PARIS: A common set of genes play a role in learning to read and do maths, with tiny variants influencing a child’s skills in these tasks, according to a study published yesterday.

But this ability is not just gene-driven, as schooling and help from parents are also vital contributors, its authors cautioned.

Scientists delved into a data pool called the Twins Early Development Study, which enrolled 12-year-olds from nearly 2,800 British families.

The team compared twins and unrelated children to see how they performed in tests for maths and reading comprehension and fluency, and then matched the children’s genomes. Between 10 percent and half of the genes involved in reading were also involved in maths, they found.

Tiny variants in these shared genes influence skill level, the study said.

Researcher Robert Plomin, a professor at King’s College London, said: “Children differ genetically in how easy or difficult they find learning, and we need to recognise and respect these individual differences.”

“Heritability does not imply that anything is set in stone — it just means it may take more effort from parents, schools and teachers to bring the child up to speed.”