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Longitudinal Effects on Adolescent Language (Harlaar et al., 2016)

journal contribution
posted on 23.02.2022, 05:15 by Nicole Harlaar, Laura Segebart DeThorne, Jamie Mahurin-Smith, Mariana Aparicio Betancourt, Stephen A. Petrill
Purpose: We evaluated genetic and environmental contributions to individual differences in language skills during early adolescence, measured by both language sampling and standardized tests, and examined the extent to which these genetic and environmental effects are stable across time.
Method: We used structural equation modeling on latent factors to estimate additive genetic, shared environmental, and nonshared environmental effects on variance in standardized language skills (i.e., Formal Language) and productive language-sample measures (i.e., Productive Language) in a sample of 527 twins across 3 time points (mean ages 10–12 years).
Results: Individual differences in the Formal Language factor were influenced primarily by genetic factors at each age, whereas individual differences in the Productive Language factor were primarily due to nonshared environmental influences. For the Formal Language factor, the stability of genetic effects was high across all 3 time points. For the Productive Language factor, nonshared environmental effects showed low but statistically significant stability across adjacent time points.
Conclusions: The etiology of language outcomes may differ substantially depending on assessment context. In addition, the potential mechanisms for nonshared environmental influences on language development warrant further investigation.


This project was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grants HD38075, HD46167, and HD050307 (awarded to Stephen Petrill).