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  • fMRI Twin Study
  • What to Expect
  • Frequently Asked Questions
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New fMRI Twin Study of Reading and Math

For the last 15 years, we have been working with twins and their families to better understand how genetic and environment affect the development of reading and math skills. We are excited to continue our research with our current twin families and are recruiting new twin families as well. In particular, we have recently received a 4-year, 2.8 million dollar grant to study how the genetic and environmental influences on reading and math are processed in the brain. This grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development as a "Learning Disabilities Innovation Hub"—one of only four in the entire United States.

Dr Petrill

This is the first time any study has integrated brain scanning to understand how genetics and environment are expressed in how the brain is structured and how it functions when reading and solving math problems. As you read this sentence, you are using a very complex neurological network influenced by your genes, but by everything you have learned that allows you to understand what you are reading. The same is true when solving a math problem, such as (3 x 21) + 4.

We are going to be able to look at how genetic differences and environmental differences affect how and where people process reading and math skills in the brain. We hope that this will yield not only better understanding of math and reading, but will also help more quickly identify and treat learning difficulties and more generally tailor learning to a person's particular cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

In order to participate in the fMRI study, twins will visit one of our labs located at The Ohio State University. For this fMRI study, twins must be at least 14 years old. Each twin will receive $100 at the time of the visit for participating and families will be reimbursed for travel expenses.