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Behav Genet. 1995 Jan;25(1):1-15.

Cognitive ability and academic achievement in the Colorado Adoption Project: a multivariate genetic analysis of parent-offspring and sibling data.

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  • 1Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309, USA.


To test the hypothesis that the etiology of covariation among measures of cognitive ability and academic achievement is due at least in part to shared genetic influences, data from 198 adoptive and 220 nonadoptive families participating in the Colorado Adoption Project were subjected to multivariate behavioral genetic analyses. Data on measures of cognitive ability (verbal comprehension and perceptual organization) and academic achievement (reading recognition and mathematics achievement) from related and unrelated sibling pairs tested at age 7, as well as from adoptive and nonadoptive parents, were analyzed. Phenotypic analyses confirmed previous findings of moderate correlations among measures of cognitive ability and achievement, averaging about .35. Although 54% of the covariation between reading and mathematics achievement was due to influences shared with verbal ability, a significant proportion of this covariation was independent of the cognitive ability measures. Heritabilities for the various measures were moderate, ranging from .21 to .37. Moreover, genetic influences accounted for 33-64% of their phenotypic covariation; for example, 33-60% of the observed correlations between verbal comprehension and the achievement measures, 64% of those between perceptual organization and the achievement measures, and 63% of that between reading recognition and mathematics achievement were due to shared genetic influences. Similar to the results of the phenotypic analysis, nearly half of the genetic covariance between reading and mathematics achievement was independent of cognitive ability. Their remaining covariance was due primarily to nonshared environmental influences.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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