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Genetics of Learning Abilities and Disabilities: Recent Developments from the UK and Possible Directions for Research in China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297 - 305
Number of pages9
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

King's Authors


It is exciting to witness the birth of behavioral genetics in China at a time when the field of genetics is exploding with new discoveries. We begin by discussing the potential for Chinese researchers to sidestep the false starts of previous genetic research on behavior and to become leaders rather than followers in behavioral genetics research. Using learning abilities and disabilities as an example, the rest of the paper considers ways in which quantitative genetic research can go beyond the nature versus nurture question to ask more interesting questions about genetics and psychology. These include the relationship between the normal and abnormal, longitudinal analyses of stability and change, and multivariate analyses of heterogeneity and homogeneity. The most important way to go beyond the rudimentary question about nature versus nurture is to identify the genes responsible for genetic influence on behavior. We briefly describe our quantitative genetic findings and genome-wide association studies of learning ability from the UK Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). It seems a safe prediction that the fast pace of genetic discoveries will continue and will increasingly affect the field of psychology in China and the rest of the world.

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