Sunday, November 13, 2022

Genes linked to learning disorders

 Dyslexia is a type of intellectual disability that affects one's reading and writing skills. Diagnosed individuals may struggle processing sounds, spelling, and transferring information from written to spoken form and vice versa. This not only interferes with academic success, but also with day to day life reading signs or writing emails. It appears to be a hereditary disorder, but until recently, there was not anymore information about the cause.

Michelle Luciano and her team at the University of Edinburgh sought to find more concrete genetic causes for dyslexia. They conducted a study that compared the genomes of over a million people to see if there were noticeable difference between those with dyslexia and those without. They were able to find 42 variants that were significantly found much more in those with dyslexia. There did not appear to be any difference in these variants between sexes, ages, or ethnicity. These traits seem to only have small effects when acting alone which is common for polygenic traits - implying that the genetic basis of dyslexia is very complex. 

I think this research is both fascinating and important. Learning more about the genetic causes for intellectual disorders could ultimately help mend the academic gap that many students find themselves in. Often times the school does not have the resources or training to properly accommodate students with learning disabilities. As a result there academic progress slows down or get put on hold and the older a student gets, the harder it is to catch back up. However, if we are able to prescreen embryos and babies for things like dyslexia, we could immediately implement the techniques need to limit the effect on their reading and writing. Focusing on it from a young age will make them more likely for success in secondary and higher education.

1 comment:

  1. I found it very intriguing that there are multiple genetic contributions to dyslexia and that it is a hereditary disorder which I was unaware of. This has made me curious as to what chromosomes the genes are found on.

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