Public Release: 

Genetics influence adolescent language problems

Parental involvement has less impact than previously thought

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Oxford, England - November 16, 2006 -- Specific language impairment (SLI) is a condition in which a child's language development is deficient despite showing normal development in all other areas. New research, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, attempts to identify the cause behind this affliction.

Factors such as poor parenting, subtle brain damage or hearing loss have previously been regarded as the cause behind SLI. The findings indicate, however, that these factors are far less important than genetics, specifically, an unidentified combination of defective genes, when determining risk and that no single cause can account for all cases.

"As a greater understanding of the issues and their causes becomes apparent, more effective interventions can be devised; tailoring treatments to an individual child's specific, underlying problems," says Dr. Dorothy Bishop, author of the study.

Research into this condition is helping scientists unravel the mystery behind how genetics contribute to the development of language.


This study is published in the current issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact

Dorothy Bishop is a Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. She can be reached for questions at

Current Directions in Psychological Science presents the latest advances in theory and research in psychology. This important and timely journal contains concise reviews spanning all of scientific psychology and its applications. Written by leading experts in terms that are accessible outside of the realm of research subspecialties, the reviews published in Current Directions in Psychological Science cover such current topics as memory and cognition, language, neural foundations of behavior, social and personality determinants of behavior, psychopathology, and other topics related to the psychological sciences. For more information, please visit:

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