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Goldsmiths - University of London

Generalist genes and the Internet generation: etiology of learning abilities by web testing at age 10

Davis, O. S. P.; Kovas, Yulia; Harlaar, Nicole; Busfield, P.; McMillan, A.; Frances, J.; Petrill, Stephen A.; Dale, Philip S. and Plomin, Robert. 2008. Generalist genes and the Internet generation: etiology of learning abilities by web testing at age 10. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 7(4), pp. 455-462. ISSN 16011848 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

A key translational issue for neuroscience is to understand how genes affect individual differences in brain function. Although it is reasonable to suppose that genetic effects on specific learning abilities, such as reading and mathematics, as well as general cognitive ability (g), will overlap very little, the counterintuitive finding emerging from multivariate genetic studies is that the same genes affect these diverse learning abilities: a Generalist Genes hypothesis. To conclusively test this hypothesis, we exploited the widespread access to inexpensive and fast Internet connections in the UK to assess 2541 pairs of 10-year-old twins for reading, mathematics and g, using a web-based test battery. Heritabilities were 0.38 for reading, 0.49 for mathematics and 0.44 for g. Multivariate genetic analysis showed substantial genetic correlations between learning abilities: 0.57 between reading and mathematics, 0.61 between reading and g, and 0.75 between mathematics and g, providing strong support for the Generalist Genes hypothesis. If genetic effects on cognition are so general, the effects of these genes on the brain are also likely to be general. In this way, generalist genes may prove invaluable in integrating top-down and bottom-up approaches to the systems biology of the brain.

Item Type: Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1601-183X.2007.00370.x

Keywords:

TWINS EARLY DEVELOPMENT; BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS; SYSTEMS BIOLOGY; MULTIVARIATE; COGNITION; CHILDHOOD; COMPLEXES; LANGUAGE; SAMPLE; TEDS

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
2008Published

Item ID:

3237

Date Deposited:

01 Jul 2010 12:54

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 09:25

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/3237
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