Researchers report gene associated with language, speech and reading disorders

Aug 27, 2009

A new candidate gene for Specific Language Impairment has been identified by a research team directed by Mabel Rice at the University of Kansas, in collaboration with Shelley Smith, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and Javier Gayán of Neocodex, Seville, Spain. The finding, reported in the current issue of the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, was discovered by examining genes previously identified as candidate genes for reading impairments or speech sound disorders. The results point toward the likelihood of multiple genes contributing to language impairment, some of which also contribute to reading or speech impairment.

A gene on Chromosome 6 - KIAA0319 - was associated with variability in language abilities in a study of children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and their family members, as well as with variability in and reading abilities. Children with SLI who were selected for the study had no hearing loss, general intellectual deficit or autism.

Language ability involves vocabulary and grammar, whereas speech involves the accuracy of sound production. Both language and speech ability contribute to a child's ability to . The finding that a candidate gene could influence all three abilities suggests a common pathway that could contribute to overlapping strengths or deficiencies across speech, language and reading.

According to Rice, "We don't understand the biological mechanisms yet but it's important that we have identified the first gene that could be involved across these three different dimensions of development."

Previous research has established that Chromosome 6 is among those that are linked to Speech Sounds Disorder (SSD) and Reading Disability/Dyslexia (RD). Rice said the findings are consistent with numerous reports documenting that language impairments and reading disability often co-exist.

The study involved 322 individuals, including children with SLI, their parents, siblings, and other family members. "We have come to realize that language really sets the platform for reading to emerge and to thrive," Rice added. "Without a solid language system, it's much harder to get reading going."

The study is part of a 20-year research program conducted by Rice, who is the Fred and Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies and director of the Center for Biobehavioral Neurosciences in Communication Disorders at KU's Life Span Institute. Co-investigators on the genetics project were Shelley Smith, professor of pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics and the Munroe Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and Javier Gayán, Head of the Analysis Group at Neocodex, in Seville, Spain. Neocodex is a research company that specializes in genomics analysis.

The article is available online at dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11689-009-9031-x

Source: University of Kansas

Explore further: How the brain leads us to believe we have sharp vision

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New piece in reading ability 'jigsaw'

Oct 01, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- A gene thought to be associated with dyslexia is also connected with reading ability in the general population, according to Oxford University research.

Conversing helps language development more than reading alone

Jun 29, 2009

Adult-child conversations have a more significant impact on language development than exposing children to language through one-on-one reading alone, according to a new study in the July issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the ...

How the brain copes in language-impaired kids

Mar 12, 2008

Researchers at UCL (University College London) have discovered that a system in the brain for processing grammar is impaired in some children with specific language impairment (SLI), but that these children compensate with ...

Recommended for you

Myelin vital for learning new practical skills

Oct 16, 2014

New evidence of myelin's essential role in learning and retaining new practical skills, such as playing a musical instrument, has been uncovered by UCL research. Myelin is a fatty substance that insulates ...

Reminiscing can help, not hinder, some mind-bending tasks

Oct 16, 2014

To solve a mental puzzle, the brain's executive control network for externally focused, goal-oriented thinking must activate, while the network for internally directed thinking like daydreaming must be turned down to avoid ...

Bio-X scientists develop decoy drug to aid ailing brain

Oct 16, 2014

A team of Stanford Bio-X scientists has restored the ability of adult mice to form new connections in the brain. If the finding works in people, it has the potential to help adults recover from stroke and ...

User comments : 0