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Speed of Sight

Speed of Sight

Genetic Contribution to Reading Ability and Rapid Naming 


The ability to read is related to a number of overlapping skills. These skills can be tested and give a good indication of a person’s reading ability. One skill, decoding, is the ability to understand the relationship between written symbols and speech sounds. This can be tested by seeing how fast someone can correctly pronounce pretend words that sound like real words but do not exist in a particular language. Another skill is rapid naming; the ability to quickly name familiar visual symbols such as letters, numbers, colours, and objects. This ability can be measured using a task, Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN), which requires people to name items presented to them as quickly and as accurately as possible. Research suggests these skills and reading ability are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Thus far studies of families with reading disabilities (also called dyslexia) indicate that there are at least 10 genes located in different chromosomes that contribute to reading disabilities. The same genes likely contribute to reading ability in the general population. The location of these genes within the chromosomes is known and the genes are currently being identified. Our goal in this study is to identify specific genes that may play a role in reading ability and specific reading skills.

A project of The Hospital for Sick Children, the Canadian Language and Literacy Network, and the Ontario Science Centre