Study: Same Genes Influence Both Math and Reading Abilities

July 14, 2014

Math and reading may not be so different after all.

A new study reveals that half of the genes that play a role in a child’s math ability also make a difference for a child’s reading ability. The study, published in Nature Communications, represents an important step toward understanding the influence of genetics and the environment over a child’s aptitude for these skills. The scientists compared the test scores of 2,800 pairs of identical and fraternal twins to those of unrelated children. They also examined participants’ DNA sequences for any genetic clues.

Students working on computers
Our program incorporates both reading and writing.

Robert Plomin is a behavioral geneticist at Kings College London and one of the authors of the study.”You’d think that cognitively what’s going on with math and reading is very different,” he said during an interview with NPR. “Actually, people who are good at reading, you can bet, are pretty good at math too.”

He also encouraged listeners not to view the results as definitive, saying that genes are just “little nudges” which encourage you to favor one activity over the other, such as math homework. The extra time spent on math homework will have a “snowball” effect on the child’s math ability.

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