The genetics of dyslexia: learning from the past to shape the future

Silvia Paracchini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It is estimated that up to 70% of the risk of developing dyslexia and of the variability in reading abilities has a genetic origin. This chapter provides an overview of the different methods that have been used to pinpoint the specific genetic factors underlying such risk. Through a chronological perspective, it starts by describing the characterization of a few candidate genes which, for a long time, dominated the field and shaped theories around neuronal migration and cilia biology aimed at explaining dyslexia. The strong heritability for dyslexia provided the basis for molecular genetics studies aimed at pinpointing specific genes. In the last 15 years, genome wide-association studies have become the gold standard method for identifying the genetic factors underlying common multifactorial conditions like dyslexia. The focus of statistical modeling of molecular genetic data has shifted from the analysis of individual markers to the aggregation of multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms using polygenic risk score analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe science of reading
Subtitle of host publicationa handbook
EditorsMargaret J. Snowling, Charles Hulme, Kate Nation
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781119705116, 9781119705123
ISBN (Print)9781119705093
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2022

Publication series

NameWiley Blackwell handbooks of developmental psychology


  • Dyslexia
  • Genetic factors
  • Genome wide-association studies
  • Molecular genetics studies
  • Polygenic risk score analysis
  • Reading abilities
  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms
  • Statistical modeling


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