Plomin R, Shakeshaft NG, McMillan A, Trzaskowski M. Nature, Nurture, and Expertise. Intelligence. 2014 Jul;45:46-59.
In a cross-sectional twin study, Plomin et al explore the genetic and environmental underpinnings of reading expertise, defined as performance above the 95th percentile on a comprehensive reading test at age 12. They find that more than half of the difference in performance between expert and ordinary readers can be tied to genetic factors; that expert reading performance forms a continuum with ordinary performance, and appears to be influenced by genetic and environmental factors to the same degree; and that shared family and school environment per se only accounts for a fifth of the difference between expert and ordinary readers.
Apart from the perhaps predictable but nonetheless valuable experimental findings, the article is very much worth reading for the sake of the detailed and nuanced discussion of the interplay between genetics, environment, and individual achievement.
Posted by Alina Levtova, MD