What does genetic research tell us about the origins of language and literacy development? A reflection on Verhoef et al. (2020)

Bonnie Wing Yin Chow*, Simpson W L WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Quantitative genetic research has set the stage for the exploration of genetic influences and the underlying mechanisms that undergird language and literacy development. Following this line of enquiry, Verhoef et al. (2020) address a critical issue related to genetic processes by comparing whether the genetic mechanism known as innovation or amplification plays a more pivotal role in literacy development during the period of early childhood to early adolescence, using the cutting-edge technique called the genome-wide complex trait analysis. This commentary reviews and discusses the implications of the provocative findings that stem from their study and offers concrete directions for future research. Embedded in our reflections are discussions related to the generalist genes vs genetic specificity debate, language universality vs specificity, as well as the role of environment in genetic influences. Taken together, the discussions in the commentary have highlighted the need for more in-depth explorations of the interplay between genes and literacy development through a multi-disciplinary approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-741
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume62
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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