Researchers from King’s College London have used a genetic scoring technique to predict reading performance throughout school years from DNA alone.
The study, published in Scientific Studies of Reading, shows that a genetic score comprising around 20,000 of DNA variants explains five per cent of the differences between children’s reading performance. Students with the highest and lowest genetic scores differed by a whole two years in their reading performance.
The researchers calculated genetic scores (also called polygenic scores) for educational achievement in 5,825 individuals from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) based on genetic variants identified to be important for educational attainment. They then mapped these scores against reading ability between the ages of seven and 14.
Saskia Selzam, first author of the study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, said:
The value of polygenic scores is that they make it possible to predict genetic risk and resilience at the level of the individual. This is different to twin studies, which tell us about the overall genetic influence within a large population of people.
We think this study provides an important starting point for exploring genetic differences in reading ability, using polygenic scoring. For instance, these scores could enable research on resilience to developing reading difficulties and how children respond individually to different interventions.
Read the full story on the King’s website.