We usually think of math and reading skills as two distinct abilities; you’re either good with numbers or words. A new study may debunk this notion that our brains are either adept at math or reading.
The findings of a recent study reveal that half of the genes that influence a child’s math ability also influence reading ability. Children’s genetics and their academic abilities are then shaped by their immediate learning environments, such as school and home.
The researchers examined nearly 2,800 pairs of 12-year-old twins who were part of the larger Twins Early Development Study. The participants were tested for reading comprehension and fluency, and answered mathematical questions.
This information was then compared to the participants’ DNA data to look for a singular gene or set of genes that were shared by those with high math and reading ability. They also looked for genes that were perhaps missing in those with low math and reading ability.
The results showed a significant overlap between children’s genetic variations and their academic abilities. But, no particular gene or gene set emerged in the findings.
A strong genetic influence does not indicate that a child’s learning is fixed, but rather, it underscores that extra effort may be required from parents and teachers to develop children’s abilities. Many teachers will agree that inborn talent is much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence when it comes to math and reading.
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