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Twin Study Helps Scientists Link Relationship Among ADHD, Reading, Math - featured December 14, 2010

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[Source: Science Daily.com]

Children with ADHD can sometimes have more difficulties on math and reading tests compared to their peers. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, used identical and fraternal twins to look at the genetic and environmental influences underlying ADHD behaviors, reading, and math skills in children in an attempt to better understand the relationship among them.

Sara Hart, of the Florida State University, and her colleagues used twins enrolled in a long-term study of reading and math. Hart says by focusing on twins specifically, psychological scientists are able to tease out the difference between nature and nurture.

To do this, scientists compare identical twins, who have nearly the same DNA, with fraternal twins, who generally only share about half of their DNA. If identical twins are generally more alike on a trait -- say, their eye color or reading ability -- and fraternal twins are much less alike on the same trait, you can presume the trait is inherited. On the other hand, if pairs of identical twins are alike on a trait to the same extent that pairs of fraternal twins are alike on that trait -- like how outgoing they are -- you know the trait is probably influenced by their environment. Most traits fall somewhere in between, and twin studies can show that, too.

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Tags: News of the Week ADHD Newsletter 17 December 2010