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J Educ Psychol. 2012 Aug;104(3). doi: 10.1037/a0027646.

Mathematics is differentially related to reading comprehension and word decoding: Evidence from a genetically-sensitive design.

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Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA.


Although evidence suggests that individual differences in reading and mathematics skills are correlated, this relationship has typically only been studied in relation to word decoding or global measures of reading. It is unclear whether mathematics is differentially related to word decoding and reading comprehension. The current study examined these relationships at both a phenotypic and etiological level in a population-based cohort of 5162 twin pairs at age 12. Multivariate genetic analyses of latent phenotypic factors of mathematics, word decoding and reading comprehension revealed substantial genetic and shared environmental correlations among all three domains. However, the phenotypic and genetic correlations between mathematics and reading comprehension were significantly greater than between mathematics and word decoding. Independent of mathematics, there was also evidence for genetic and nonshared environmental links between word decoding and reading comprehension. These findings indicate that word decoding and reading comprehension have partly distinct relationships with mathematics in the middle school years.


Behavioral genetics; early adolescence; mathematics; reading comprehension; word decoding

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