Etiology of reading difficulties and rapid naming: the Colorado Twin Study of Reading Disability

Behav Genet. 2001 Nov;31(6):625-35. doi: 10.1023/a:1013305730430.


Children with reading deficits perform more slowly than normally-achieving readers on speed of processing measures, such as rapid naming (RN). Although rapid naming is a well-established correlate of reading performance and both are heritable, few studies have attempted to assess the cause of their covariation. Measures of rapid naming (numbers, colors, objects, and letters subtests), phonological decoding, orthographic choice, and a composite variable (DISCR) derived from the reading recognition, reading comprehension, and spelling subtests of the Peabody Individual Achievement Test were obtained from a total of 550 twin pairs with a positive school history of reading problems. Basic DeFries and Fulker (DF) multiple regression models for the analysis of selected twin data confirmed the heritable nature of phonological decoding, orthographic choice, DISCR, and rapid-naming composites. Bivariate DF models were employed to examine the extent to which deficits in the three reading-related measures covary genetically with rapid naming. Significant bivariate heritability estimates for each of the reading measures with the numbers and letters rapid-naming composite were also obtained. As expected, univariate sib-pair linkage analyses indicated the presence of a quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 6p21.3 for phonological decoding and orthographic choice deficits. Bivariate linkage analyses were then conducted to test the hypothesis that this QTL for reading difficulties is pleiotropic for slower performance on RN tasks. The results obtained from these analyses did not provide substantial evidence that the 6p QTL for reading difficulties has significant effects on rapid naming; however, larger samples would be required to test this hypothesis more rigorously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anomia / genetics*
  • Child
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 6
  • Diseases in Twins*
  • Dyslexia / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / genetics
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Phonetics
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Reaction Time / genetics*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Genetic Markers