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Abstract

This study considered how far nonverbal cognitive, language and reading abilities are affected by common genetic influences in a sample of 312 typically developing Chinese twin pairs aged from 3 to 11 years. Children were individually given tasks of Chinese word reading, receptive vocabulary, phonological memory, tone awareness, syllable and rhyme awareness, rapid automatized naming, morphological awareness and orthographic skills, and Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices. Factor analyses on the verbal tasks adjusted for age indicated two factors: Language as the first factor and Reading as the second factor. Univariate genetic analyses indicated that genetic influences were substantial for nonverbal cognitive ability and moderate for language and reading. Multivariate genetic analyses showed that nonverbal cognitive ability, language and reading were influenced by shared genetic origins, although there were specific genetic influences on verbal skills that were distinct from those on nonverbal cognitive ability. This study extends the Generalist Genes Hypothesis to Chinese language and reading skills, suggesting that the general effects of genes could be universal across languages.