Behavior Genetics

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 417–426 | Cite as

Genetic Covariation Between the Author Recognition Test and Reading and Verbal Abilities: What Can We Learn from the Analysis of High Performance?

  • Nicolas W. Martin
  • Narelle K. Hansell
  • Mark A. Wainwright
  • Sri N. Shekar
  • Sarah E. Medland
  • Timothy C. Bates
  • Jennifer S. Burt
  • Nicholas G. Martin
  • Margaret J. Wright
Original Research


The Author Recognition Test (ART) measures print exposure and is a unique predictor of phonological and orthographic processes in reading. In a sample of adolescent and young adult twins and siblings (216 MZ/430 DZ pairs, 307 singletons; aged 11–29 years) ART scores were moderately heritable (67%) and correlated with reading and verbal abilities, with genes largely accounting for the covariance. We also examine whether high (and low) (i.e. 1SD above the mean) represents a quantitative extreme of the normal distribution. Heritability for high ART was of similar magnitude to the full sample, but, a specific genetic factor, independent from both low ART performance and high reading ability, accounted for 53–58% of the variance. This suggests a distinct genetic etiology for high ART ability and we speculate that the specific genetic influence is on orthographical processing, a critical factor in developing word recognition skills.


Print exposure Verbal abilities Reading Twins Quantitative genetics 



We would like to thank the twins and their parents for their willingness to participate in this study. We are grateful to Ann Eldridge and Marlene Grace for the recruitment of twin pairs and data collection, David Smith and Daniel Park for computing support, as well as many other research assistants and support staff in the Genetic Epidemiology Unit at QIMR. We are thankful to the Behavior Genetics reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript. This work has been supported from multiple sources: Australian Research Council (A7960034, A79906588, A79801419, DP0212016, DP0343921), The Human Frontier Science Program (RG0154.1998-B), National Health and Medical Research Council (192103), and Beyond Blue (Australia). NWM is supported by a grant from the Templeton Foundation (13575).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas W. Martin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Narelle K. Hansell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark A. Wainwright
    • 1
  • Sri N. Shekar
    • 1
  • Sarah E. Medland
    • 1
    • 3
  • Timothy C. Bates
    • 4
  • Jennifer S. Burt
    • 2
  • Nicholas G. Martin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Margaret J. Wright
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Genetic Epidemiology LaboratoryQueensland Institute of Medical Research, P.O. Royal Brisbane HospitalBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral GeneticsRichmondUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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