Longitudinal stability in genetic effects on children's conversational language productivity

Laura Segebart DeThorne, Nicole Harlaar, Stephen A. Petrill, Kirby Deater-Deckard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The authors examined the longitudinal stability of genetic and environmental influences on children's productive language sample measures during the early school-age years. Method: Twin study methodology with structural equation modeling was used to derive univariate estimates of additive genetic (A), shared environmental (C), and nonshared environmental (E) effects on language measures at each of 2 time points, based on 487 twins at the 1st-grade time point and 387 twins at the 2nd-grade time point. To address questions of stability over time, the authors used longitudinal latent factor analysis. Results: Stability in the Conversational Language factor was accounted for almost entirely by shared genetic effects between 1st and 2nd grade, meaning no new genetic effects were observed at the 2nd time point. In contrast, nonshared environmental effects were entirely time point specific, meaning whatever nonshared environmental influences were operating at the first time point were not influencing individual variation in the language factor at the second time point. Conclusion: The discussion in this article centers on possible candidates for both genetic and nonshared environmental effects as well as implications for clinical practice and future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-753
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


  • Elementary pupils
  • Expressive language assessment
  • Language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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