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Goldsmiths - University of London

One step forward, two steps back: explaining the slow progress with understanding the origins of individual differences in mathematics.

Kovas, Yulia; Doherty, S.J. and Plomin, R.. 2012. One step forward, two steps back: explaining the slow progress with understanding the origins of individual differences in mathematics. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 13(3), p. 270. ISSN 1832-4274 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Recent twin research has revealed a strong genetic basis to mathematics. Molecular genetic research has begun to identify DNA polymorphisms that contribute to variation in mathematical ability. However, our research suggests that the mechanisms of this contribution are extremely complex, which explains why the progress in this area has been slow. Here we present the results from the UK longitudinal, population-based Twins’ Early Development Study demonstrating these complex mechanisms. First, our research suggests that many DNA polymorphisms contribute to mathematical ability, and each of them has only a small and probabilistic contribution to the person’s position on the ‘mathematical ability continuum’. Second, although many of the same genetic effects continue to be important for mathematics across development, new genetic effects also come on line at each age. Third, many of the DNA polymorphisms that contribute to variation in mathematical ability at a particular age also contribute to variation in other learning abilities at the same age, but less so at other ages. Finally, our research shows that the effects of genes on mathematical ability may not be the same in different environments. For example, genetic risk of poor mathematical performance seems to be mediated by the way
children experience and perceive their learning environment — so
that the effects of the risk genes are suppressed when the child’s
classroom experiences are positive. We discuss the importance of the awareness of these complexities for future research and for ultimate progress in understanding the origins of mathematical achievement and underachievement

Item Type: Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1375/twin.13.3.246

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
1 February 2012Published
1 June 2010Published Online

Item ID:

20700

Date Deposited:

22 Aug 2017 13:48

Last Modified:

22 Aug 2017 13:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20700
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