The Etiology of Diverse Receptive Language Skills at 12 Years PurposeIn the 2nd decade of life, language skills expand in both quantitative and qualitative ways. The etiology of these new skills and the relationships among them have been little explored.MethodTaking advantage of widespread access to inexpensive and fast Internet connections in the United Kingdom, we administered four Web-based measures of ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2010
The Etiology of Diverse Receptive Language Skills at 12 Years
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Philip S. Dale
    University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Nicole Harlaar
    Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Marianna E. Hayiou-Thomas
    University of York, United Kingdom
  • Robert Plomin
    King’s College London
  • Contact author: Philip S. Dale, University of New Mexico, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, 1700 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108. E-mail: dalep@unm.edu.
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2010
The Etiology of Diverse Receptive Language Skills at 12 Years
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2010, Vol. 53, 982-992. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0108)
History: Received May 29, 2009 , Revised September 22, 2009 , Accepted October 21, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2010, Vol. 53, 982-992. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0108)
History: Received May 29, 2009; Revised September 22, 2009; Accepted October 21, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

PurposeIn the 2nd decade of life, language skills expand in both quantitative and qualitative ways. The etiology of these new skills and the relationships among them have been little explored.

MethodTaking advantage of widespread access to inexpensive and fast Internet connections in the United Kingdom, we administered four Web-based measures of receptive language development—Vocabulary, Listening Grammar, Figurative Language, and Making Inferences—to a sample of 12-year-old twin pairs (N = 4,892) participating in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS; Oliver & Plomin, 2007).

ResultsThe 4 measures showed moderate phenotypic intercorrelation. All 4 showed moderate genetic influence (a2 between .25 and .36) and low shared environmental influence (c2 between .13 and .19). The median genetic correlation among the 4 measures was .87, indicating strong genetic overlap among them. A latent factor score for Language, based on the common variance among the measures, showed substantial genetic influence (a2 = .59) and moderate shared environmental influence (c2 = .28). A small but significant sex difference favored females on the Listening Grammar and Making Inferences tests, but there was no evidence for sex differences in the etiology of any of the measures.

ConclusionDespite the emergence of new skills at this developmental period, from the etiological perspective, language skills remain relatively undifferentiated at an etiological level.

Acknowledgments
We are grateful for the ongoing contribution of the children and their parents in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS; Robert Plomin, P.I.). TEDS is supported by Program Grant G0500079 from the United Kingdom Medical Research Council. Research on academic achievement is also supported by National Institutes of Health Grants HD44454 and HD46167.
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