According to a review in the premier issue of Mind, Brain, and Education, the latest research into learning disabilities suggests that 'generalist' genes are responsible for a wide range of learning disorders.
"Old studies tend to focus on finding the genes responsible for single disorders," says review author Robert Plomin, "but with the new analysis techniques available, new studies are providing evidence that genes can be responsible for a wide range of learning disorders." According to Plomin, these 'generalist' genes can be linked to language and math disorders, and even spatial and memory functions.
Environment does play a role in learning disorders, but more so in determining what type of learning disorder may develop. "Because we now know that environmental factors are 'specialists', these findings have far-reaching implications for education in terms of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of learning disabilities," says Plomin.
Studies on generalist genes could lead to important advances in neurological research. "Once we overcome the remaining obstacles to identifying these genes, they will provide exciting glimpses into general mechanisms at all levels of analysis from genes to brain to behavior."