RE: [xmca] reading ability is genetic!? (read this one!)

From: David Preiss (
Date: Wed Sep 20 2006 - 10:01:49 PDT

Hi all,
For what is worth, as you mentioned Elena Grigorenko, I think she
illustrates that you could work on genetics and be an environmentalist as
well. Elena is a great example of an interesting, interactional, genetic
approach. For topics beyond dyslexia, she has produced several volumes
dealing with the interaction between environment and genetics that are worth
reading. You might found them in ERLBAUM´s website. As for the use of
statistics, I don't see them as incompatible with CHAT. Indeed, Psychology
of Literacy by Scribner & Cole rests on multivariate regression analyses!

-----Mensaje original-----
De: [] En
nombre de Katarina Rodina
Enviado el: Miércoles, 20 de Septiembre de 2006 9:47
Para: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Asunto: Re: [xmca] reading ability is genetic!? (read this one!)


environment vs. inheritance as etiological factors for learning (in this
case developmental dyslexia dysabilities is one of the "eternal" debates
in cognitive science). Elena Grigorenko (a genetician and psychologist) is
a specialist in this field of research. She claims that one of the most
important causes for reading dysabilities (dyslexia) is inheritance.
Together with collegues from The University of Yale, she has found a
second gene in the 6th chromosome, that may cause dyslexia. There are also
scholars claiming that dyslexia depends on the cultural context, so that
in different cultures, there will be different kinds of causes for

I agree about the use and abuse of statistical methods. Quantitative
research approach, typically positivistic, is somewhat dissonant in our
postmodern times...

On Wed, September 20, 2006 14:35, Andy Blunden wrote:
> Here's a paper by this group:
> They prove that differential reading ability in people is genetic using
> ...
> statistics.
> Andy
> At 05:51 PM 20/09/2006 +0700, you wrote:
>>I poked my nose into the paper and found the following, which may
>>explain the psycholinguistic framework they're working within.
>>"Another key issue that we wish to explore is the role of semantics.
>>One possibility that needs to be considered is that the independent
>>genetic variance that we have found to be associated with irregular
>>word reading in fact reflects the genetic effect of semantics. That
>>is, as irregular words activate semantics, while nonwords do not,
>>this semantic factor accounts for the necessity to propose
>>independent genetic influences on these two reading skills (a
>>hypothesis consistent with connectionist models such as those of
>>Plaut et al., 1996). This possibility can be explicitly examined
>>within a twin sample by separately assessing semantic performance in
>>addition to irregular word and nonword reading (for instance by
>>verbally asking subjects to define words). If irregular word reading
>>cannot be achieved without semantics, this measured semantic
>>performance should load on the same genetic factor that explains
>>irregular word reading. If, on the other hand, semantics is a
>>cognitive module independent of lexical processing, then a good fit
>>to these three variables should require a new, additional genetic
>>On 20/09/2006, at 4:58 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>Can anyone deal with this stupidity:
>>>I haven't read the research and it's not my discipline, but I heard
>>>the Macquarie University guy interviewed on Radio National last
>>>year, and his thesis is based on data comparing the reading ability
>>>of kids arriving at primary school, and presuming that any
>>>difference in ability must be genetic, because there is nothing
>>>between birth and arriving at school which he thinks could affect
>>>ability to learn to read. ... or is there so much of this rubbish
>>>about that it's not worth contesting? I mean these people get
>>>government money for purveying this stuff!
>>>xmca mailing list
>>xmca mailing list
> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, AIM
> identity: AndyMarxists mobile 0409 358 651
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Katarina A. Rodina
MSc in Speech-Language Pathology,
PhD-Research Fellow,
Department of Special Needs Education
University of Oslo
P.O.Box 1140 Blindern
NO-0318 OSLO,Norway
Phone: +47 22 85 81 38
Fax:     +47 22 85 80 21

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