Quantitative genetics in the era of molecular genetics: learning abilities and disabilities as an example

Claire M A Haworth, Robert Plomin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To consider recent findings from quantitative genetic research in the context of molecular genetic research, especially genome-wide association studies. We focus on findings that go beyond merely estimating heritability. We use learning abilities and disabilities as examples.

METHOD: Recent twin research in the area of learning abilities and disabilities was reviewed.

RESULTS: Three findings from quantitative genetic research stand out for their far-reaching implications for child and adolescent psychiatry. First, common disorders such as learning difficulties are the quantitative extreme of the same genetic factors responsible for genetic influence throughout the normal distribution (the Common Disorders are Quantitative Traits Hypothesis). Second, the same set of genes is largely responsible for genetic influence across diverse learning and cognitive abilities and disabilities (the Generalist Genes Hypothesis). Third, experiences are just as influenced genetically as are behaviors and genetic factors mediate associations between widely used measures of the environment and behavioural outcomes (the Nature of Nurture Hypothesis).

CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative genetics can go far beyond the rudimentary "how much" question about nature versus nurture, and can continue to provide important findings in the era of molecular genetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-93
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume49
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

Bibliographical note

2010 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Forecasting
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Learning Disorders
  • Molecular Biology
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Social Environment

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