GENETIC LINKS TO LANGUAGE FOUND

Paolo Gambi, Rinascimento poetico

GENETIC LINKS TO LANGUAGE FOUND

WASHINGTON, JAN. 26 (UPI) _ BRITISH GENE HUNTERS ARE CLOSING IN ON THE DNA OF OUR ABCS.
A UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD SCIENTIFIC TEAM HAS FOUND A REGION ON HUMAN CHROMOSOME 7 THAT APPEARS TO HOLD A GENETIC KEY TO LANGUAGE.
GENETICIST ANTHONY MONACO, WHO LED THE RESEARCH, SAYS THIS IS THE FIRST EVIDENCE OF A SINGLE GENE INVOLVED IN THE COMPLEX PROCESS OF HUMAN COMMUNICATION.
MONACO SAYS, “IT OPENS UP A BLACK BOX.”
THE SCIENTISTS FOUND THE REGION BY EXAMINING A ONE-OF-A-KIND FAMILY, IDENTIFIED ONLY AS KE, WHO HAVE A RARE DISORDER THAT SCRAMBLES THEIR SPEECH.
RESEARCHERS BELIEVE ISOLATING THE REGION, WHICH THEY CALL SPCH 1, MAY ONE DAY EXPLAIN WHY SOME SCHOOLCHILDREN STRUGGLE TO LEARN THE RULES OF GRAMMAR WHILE OTHERS EFFORTLESSLY BECOME GREAT COMMUNICATORS.
THE SCIENTISTS ESTIMATE THAT UP TO 5 PERCENT OF CHILDREN OF NORMAL INTELLIGENCE FIND IT HARD TO LEARN TO USE WORDS.
THE RESEARCH APPEARS IN THE JOURNAL NATURE GENETICS.
THE OXFORD TEAM SCRUTINIZED THE GENES OF 27 MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY AND FOUND A SET OF GENETIC MARKERS ON THE CHROMOSOME THAT APPEARED ONLY IN MEMBERS WHO HAD THE DISORDER, WHICH IS MARKED BY SPEECH THAT IS “LARGELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE.”
THE NEXT STEP IS TO PINPOINT THE GENE, WHICH COULD TAKE UP TO TWO YEARS, SAYS MONACO.
GENETICIST DENNIS DRAYNA SAYS “THIS IS A VERY SIGNIFICANT TOEHOLD.”
DRAYNA, WHO IS STUDYING THE GENETICS OF STUTTERING AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, SAYS FINDING THE GENE MAY OPEN A WINDOW FOR RESEARCH NOT JUST ON LANGUAGE DISABILITIES BUT ALSO ON PEOPLE WHO HAVE A WAY WITH WORDS. DRAYNA SAYS, “EVERYBODY KNOWS THESE ABILITIES RUN IN FAMILIES.”
26-01-98

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