The proposed research would assess the etiology of individual differences in prereading and early reading development, and their covariation with individual differences in attention/hyperactivity. We will conduct a longitudinal study of 608 identical and fraternal twin pairs, beginning at 4 years of age, and continuing through their early reading development at the end of kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. The twin data will be used to explore the contributions of genetic, shared-environmental and non-shared environmental influences to individual differences in important pre-reading skills and attention in preschoolers, as well as genetic and environmental links between preschool behavior and subsequent reading development and attention in the early grades. Measures for the preschool children will include a """"""""dynamic"""""""" assessment of their ability to learn sensitivity to phonemes in words, as well as measures of other language skills and attention/hyperactivity that are believed to be important in early reading development. Specific environmental influences will be explored using parent and teacher questionnaires and home observations. We plan calls for combining the data from the proposed U.S. twin study sample and a smaller sample of Australian twins included in a parallel study by these investigators that will use the same measures and sampling procedures. While the statistical power of the U.S. sample will be sufficient to address the central questions regarding individual differences, the combined U.S. and Australian samples will allow the assessment of whether genetic and environmental influences are similar for deviant-group membership (i.e., reading disability, attention deficit disorder) versus individual differences across the normal range. These unique longitudinal data from young twins, including dynamic and static measures of prereading skills, environmental measures, and attention measures, will provide important new evidence regarding the genetic and environmental etiology of individual differences across a critical period of reading development from preschool through second grade.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-3 (01))
Program Officer
Lyon, Reid G
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Colorado at Boulder
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
Zip Code
Leopold, Daniel R; Christopher, Micaela E; Olson, Richard K et al. (2018) Invariance of ADHD Symptoms Across Sex and Age: a Latent Analysis of ADHD and Impairment Ratings from Early Childhood into Adolescence. J Abnorm Child Psychol :
Peterson, Robin L; Arnett, Anne B; Pennington, Bruce F et al. (2018) Literacy acquisition influences children's rapid automatized naming. Dev Sci 21:e12589
Becker, Stephen P; Burns, G Leonard; Leopold, Daniel R et al. (2018) Differential impact of trait sluggish cognitive tempo and ADHD inattention in early childhood on adolescent functioning. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 59:1094-1104
Arnett, Anne B; Pennington, Bruce F; Peterson, Robin L et al. (2017) Explaining the sex difference in dyslexia. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 58:719-727
Livingstone, Luisa T; Coventry, William L; Corley, Robin P et al. (2016) Does the Environment Have an Enduring Effect on ADHD? A Longitudinal Study of Monozygotic Twin Differences in Children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 44:1487-1501
Treiman, Rebecca; Kessler, Brett; Pollo, Tatiana Cury et al. (2016) Measures of Kindergarten Spelling and Their Relations to Later Spelling Performance. Sci Stud Read 20:349-362
Wadsworth, Sally J; DeFries, John C; Willcutt, Erik G et al. (2016) Genetic Etiologies of Comorbidity and Stability for Reading Difficulties and ADHD: A Replication Study. Twin Res Hum Genet 19:647-651
Christopher, Micaela E; Keenan, Janice M; Hulslander, Jacqueline et al. (2016) The genetic and environmental etiologies of the relations between cognitive skills and components of reading ability. J Exp Psychol Gen 145:451-66
Leopold, Daniel R; Christopher, Micaela E; Burns, G Leonard et al. (2016) Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and sluggish cognitive tempo throughout childhood: temporal invariance and stability from preschool through ninth grade. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 57:1066-74
Elwér, Åsa; Gustafson, Stefan; Byrne, Brian et al. (2015) A retrospective longitudinal study of cognitive and language skills in poor reading comprehension. Scand J Psychol 56:157-66

Showing the most recent 10 out of 44 publications