The correlation between reading and mathematics ability at age twelve has a substantial genetic component

Oliver S P Davis*, Gavin Band, Matti Pirinen, Claire M A Haworth, Emma L. Meaburn, Yulia Kovas, Nicole Harlaar, Sophia J. Docherty, Ken B. Hanscombe, MacIej Trzaskowski, Charles J C Curtis, Amy Strange, Colin Freeman, Céline Bellenguez, Zhan Su, Richard Pearson, Damjan Vukcevic, Cordelia Langford, Panos Deloukas, Sarah HuntEmma Gray, Serge Dronov, Simon C. Potter, Avazeh Tashakkori-Ghanbaria, Sarah Edkins, Suzannah J. Bumpstead, Jenefer M. Blackwell, Elvira Bramon, Matthew A. Brown, Juan P. Casas, Aiden Corvin, Audrey Duncanson, Janusz A Z Jankowski, Hugh S. Markus, Christopher G. Mathew, Colin N A Palmer, Anna Rautanen, Stephen J. Sawcer, Richard C. Trembath, Ananth C. Viswanathan, Nicholas W. Wood, Ines Barroso, Leena Peltonen, Philip S. Dale, Stephen A. Petrill, Leonard S. Schalkwyk, Ian W. Craig, Cathryn M. Lewis, Thomas S. Price, Peter Donnelly, Robert Plomin, Chris C A Spencer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Dissecting how genetic and environmental influences impact on learning is helpful for maximizing numeracy and literacy. Here we show, using twin and genome-wide analysis, that there is a substantial genetic component to children,s ability in reading and mathematics, and estimate that around one half of the observed correlation in these traits is due to shared genetic effects (so-called Generalist Genes). Thus, our results highlight the potential role of the learning environment in contributing to differences in a child,s cognitive abilities at age twelve.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4204
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2014


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