The Genetics and Environments of Reading: A Behavioral Genetic Perspective

Reading is a complex skill involving the interaction of letter and word recognition, grapheme–phoneme correspondence, deciphering the meaning of a given word and, finally, the understanding of the text in its entirety (Adams, 1990). Learning to read is also a process, one that spans a wide age range, beginning in the home and continuing through formal education. Given the complexity of this construct, it is not surprising that debate continues concerning not only the processes governing the development of reading, but more fundamentally, the etiological factors that influence the development of reading. This chapter reviews the behavioral genetic research on reading in the context of the theoretical debates related to the constructs of reading. Consequently, this chapter is divided into two distinct parts. First, we will describe the current state of the literature on behavioral genetics and reading. Within this section will be a discussion on the etiology of reading ability in general, as well as the sub skills that influence reading. Following this, we will describe the genetic and environmental etiology of the relationships between different reading aspects. We will then examine molecular genetic findings, as well as research describing the impact of measures of the environment within genetically sensitive designs. The second and final section will be a brief examination of future research directions.


Reading Comprehension Phonological Awareness Reading Ability Reading Disability Rapid Automatize Naming 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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