Don’t know why your kid is scared of maths? Check his reading ability first as nearly half of the genes that influence how well a child can read also play a role in their mathematics ability.
This is the first time researchers have estimated genetic influence on learning ability using DNA alone.
“The study suggests that genetic influence on complex traits, like learning abilities and common disorders like learning disabilities, is caused by many genes of very small effect size,” said professor Robert Plomin from King’s College London who led the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS).
“Finding such strong genetic influence does not mean that there is nothing we can do if a child finds learning difficult, it just means it may take more effort from parents, schools and teachers to bring the child up to speed,” Plomin added.
The collaborative study used data to analyse the influence of genetics on the reading and mathematics performance of 12-year-old children from nearly 2,800 British families.
They were tested for reading comprehension and fluency and answered mathematics questions.
The information collected from these tests was combined with DNA data, showing a substantial overlap in the genetic variants that influence mathematics and reading.
“We compared the similarity by measuring millions of tiny differences in their DNA. Both analyses show that similar collections of subtle DNA differences are important for reading and maths,” said Dr Oliver Davis from University College London.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.