• Open Access

Reading and Generalist Genes

Authors

  • Claire M. A. Haworth,

    Corresponding author
    1. Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
      Claire M. A. Haworth, Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, P080, Institute of Psychiatry,King’s College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK; e-mail: claire.haworth@iop.kcl.ac.uk.
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  • Emma L. Meaburn,

    1. Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
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  • Nicole Harlaar,

    1. Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
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  • Robert Plomin

    1. Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
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Claire M. A. Haworth, Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, P080, Institute of Psychiatry,King’s College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK; e-mail: claire.haworth@iop.kcl.ac.uk.

Abstract

ABSTRACT— Twin-study research suggests that many (but not all) of the same genes contribute to genetic influence on diverse learning abilities and disabilities, a hypothesis called generalist genes. This generalist genes hypothesis was tested using a set of 10 DNA markers (single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) found to be associated with early reading ability in a study of 4,258 7-year-old children that screened 100,000 SNPs. Using the same sample, we show that this early reading SNP set also correlates with other aspects of literacy, components of mathematics, and more general cognitive abilities. These results provide support for the generalist genes hypothesis. Although the effect size of the current SNP set is small, such SNP sets could eventually be used to predict genetic risk for learning disabilities as well as to prescribe genetically tailored intervention and prevention programs.

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