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Molecular genetics of speech and language disorders

Newbury, Dianne F. PhD; Monaco, Anthony P. MD, PhD

Genetics

In 2001, scientists characterized the first gene to be implicated in the cause of a speech and language disorder (FOXP2). Although FOXP2 was discovered using a unique family in which a severe speech and language disorder segregates in a monogenic fashion, at the time this discovery was heralded as “a milestone in understanding this uniquely human characteristic.” Approximately 1 year later, we discuss the impact of this gene discovery on the study of language and review the relevance of this gene to both specific language impairment and language aspects of the autistic phenotype. We also discuss recent molecular genetic advances made in the study of generalized specific language impairment.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Correspondence to Anthony P. Monaco, MD, PhD, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7BN, United Kingdom; e-mail: anthony.monaco@well.ox.ac.uk

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.