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PLOS ONE  2012 

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Chinese Language and Reading Abilities

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016640

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Abstract:

This study investigated the etiology of individual differences in Chinese language and reading skills in 312 typically developing Chinese twin pairs aged from 3 to 11 years (228 pairs of monozygotic twins and 84 pairs of dizygotic twins; 166 male pairs and 146 female pairs). Children were individually given tasks of Chinese word reading, receptive vocabulary, phonological memory, tone awareness, syllable and rhyme awareness, rapid automatized naming, morphological awareness and orthographic skills, and Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices. All analyses controlled for the effects of age. There were moderate to substantial genetic influences on word reading, tone awareness, phonological memory, morphological awareness and rapid automatized naming (estimates ranged from .42 to .73), while shared environment exerted moderate to strong effects on receptive vocabulary, syllable and rhyme awareness and orthographic skills (estimates ranged from .35 to .63). Results were largely unchanged when scores were adjusted for nonverbal reasoning as well as age. Findings of this study are mostly similar to those found for English, a language with very different characteristics, and suggest the universality of genetic and environmental influences across languages.

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