Public Release: 

'Generalist' genes linked to a variety of learning disorders

Further study may significantly accelerate neurological research

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

London - March 13, 2007 - 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."


This study is published in Mind, Brain, and Education. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact

Robert Plomin is MRC Research Professor in Behavioral Genetics at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, where he is deputy director of the Social, Genetic and Development Psychiatry Centre. He can be reached for questions at

Mind, Brain, and Education is a brand new journal in the field and encourages submission of papers from the variety of fields relevant to connecting mind, brain, and education in research, theory, and/or practice. The central purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for accessible presentation of basic and applied research on learning and development, including analyses from biology, cognitive science, and education. For more information, please visit

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