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Reading and mathematics performance data from a sample of 264 reading-disabled twin pairs and 182 matched control twin pairs were subjected to multivariate behavior genetic analysis. The factor structure of reading and math performance measures was found to be highly similar for both groups. Consistent with previous findings obtained using alternative methods, a significant heritable component to individual differences in reading performance was found both within the reading-disabled (h2 = 0.78) and control (h2 = 0.74) twin samples. In addition, a substantial genetic influence on mathematics performance was found (h2 = 0.51 and 0.60 in the reading-disabled and control samples, respectively), although shared environmental influences common to both members of a twin pair also contribute significantly to the variance in math scores of both groups (c2 = 0.44 and 0.37). Moreover, genetic influences accounted for 98% of the observed correlation between reading and math performance within the sample of reading-disabled twin pairs, and for 55% of the observed correlation in the control sample. Thus, individual differences in both reading and mathematics perfomance are highly heritable and appear to be caused by many of the same genetic influences.
The multiple regression analysis of twin data in which a cotwin's score is predicted from a proband's score and the coefficient of relationship (the basic model) provides a statistically powerful test of genetic etiology. When an augmented model that also contains an interaction term is fitted to the same data set, direct estimates of heritability (h2) and the proportion of variance due to shared environmental influences (c2) are obtained. A simple transformation of selected twin data prior to regression analysis facilitates direct estimates of h2g (an index of the extent to which the difference between the mean of probands and that of the unselected population is heritable) and a test of the hypothesis that the etiology of deviant scores differs from that of variation within the normal range.
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