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June 23, 2017

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Skills in math and reading coded on same gene

Paris -- A common set of genes play a role in learning to read and do math, with tiny variants influencing a child's skills in these tasks, according to a study published Tuesday.

But this ability is not just gene-driven, as schooling and help from parents are also vital contributors, its authors cautioned.

Early numeracy and literacy are known to run in some families but the genes that affect this have until now been mainly unknown.

Scientists delved into a data pool called the Twins Early Development Study, which enrolled 12-year-olds from nearly 2,800 British families.

The team compared twins and unrelated children to see how they performed in tests for math and reading comprehension and fluency, and then matched the children's genomes.

Between 10 percent and half of the genes involved in reading were also involved in math, they found.

Tiny variants in these shared genes influence skill level, the study said.

"Similar collections of subtle DNA differences are important for reading and maths," said Oliver Davis, a geneticist at University College London.

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