Behavioral Genetics: Concepts for Research and Practice in Language Development and Disorders This paper is an introduction to behavioral genetics for researchers and practioners in language development and disorders. The specific aims are to illustrate some essential concepts and to show how behavioral genetic research can be applied to the language sciences. Past genetic research on language-related traits has tended to focus ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1995
Behavioral Genetics: Concepts for Research and Practice in Language Development and Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jeffrey W. Gilger
    University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Contact author Jefrey W. Gilger, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, 3031 Dole Human Devetopmerrt Center, Lawrence, KS, 66045–2181. E mail: gilger@falcon.cc.ukans.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1995
Behavioral Genetics: Concepts for Research and Practice in Language Development and Disorders
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1995, Vol. 38, 1126-1142. doi:10.1044/jshr.3805.1126
History: Received August 9, 1994 , Accepted March 30, 1995
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1995, Vol. 38, 1126-1142. doi:10.1044/jshr.3805.1126
History: Received August 9, 1994; Accepted March 30, 1995

This paper is an introduction to behavioral genetics for researchers and practioners in language development and disorders. The specific aims are to illustrate some essential concepts and to show how behavioral genetic research can be applied to the language sciences. Past genetic research on language-related traits has tended to focus on simple etiology (i.e., the heritability or familiality of language skills). The current state of the art, however, suggests that great promise lies in addressing more complex questions through behavioral genetic paradigms. In terms of future goals it is suggested that: (a) more behavioral genetic work of all types should be done—including replications and expansions of preliminary studies already in print; (b) work should focus on fine-grained, theory-based phenotypes with research designs that can address complex questions in language development; and (c) work in this area should utilize a variety of samples and methods (e.g., twin and family samples, heritability and segregation analyses, linkage and association tests, etc.).

Acknowledgments
The author wishes to thank Robert Plomin, Hugh Catts, and Mabel Rice for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper, as well as Holly Craig, Larry Shriberg, and Martha Crago for their extensive reviews and editorial advice. Some of the ideas presented in this paper were part of a seminar given at the ASHA Annual Convention, Anaheim, CA, 1993, and will appear in a chapter in M. Rice (in press), Towards a genetics of language, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
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