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Speed of Sight

Preliminary results

We first wanted to get a general idea about the children and families that participated. First, we saw that almost the same number of boys and girls participated, with just 32 more girls than boys participating. We also saw that the majority of children were between 9 and 12 years of age.

Age GroupParticipantsGender
(years)(number)femalemale
6-81488068
9-12291148143
13-161035944
Overall Total542287255

The children in our study were required to have English as a first language or were required to have at least 5 years of education in an English speaking school. Of the children that spoke two languages, the most common was Cantonese (2%) or Mandarin (2%) with a total of 32 different languages reported. We looked to see if children having English as a first language in the home were better at the word games. We found that children that spoke English at home had very similar word skills as those that had learned English as a second language but had been in an English school for at least 5 years.

We also looked at the average scores for the tests of real and pretend word reading for all of the children and we found that they were slightly above the average for children their age. The average score is around 100 of a possible 145. However, there was a wide range of scores. Children with both good reading skills and poor reading skills participated. These results indicate that we have achieved our goal of collecting a sample of families that reflect the reading ability in the general population.

ParticipantsReading Real WordsReading Pretend Words
NumberMeanSDMeanSD
English as a Second Language87112.8910.23112.3611.89
English as a First Language443108.8413.30107.5014.02
Total530 *109.5112.93108.3013.80

* Not all participants completed the tasks

We began this study by looking at one specific gene that is suspected to be involved in reading skill ability. This gene is located on chromosome 1p and was chosen because it is very similar to a gene on chromosome 6p that is suspected to contribute to reading disability. We have already looked at DNA variations in this gene on 1p in a sample of families with reading disabilities and found evidence that it could contribute to a person’s ability to read. The function of this gene is unknown but the related gene on 6p appears to be involved in guiding the nerve cells to their proper location during brain development.

We looked at the relationship of this 1p gene to how the genes were passed from the parents to the children and their scores on naming pretend and real words. To do this, we looked at the five different DNA changes in the gene and looked for a correlation to the reading measures. For the DNA changes we looked at, we found no evidence for a relationship to the reading measures. This could mean that this gene is not related to reading ability, however, we need to study this gene further before final conclusions are made.

Future Steps
Thus far we have only looked at one gene and we will begin to examine some of the other genes suspected to be involved in the reading process.