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Language development linked to Foxp2 gene

Social communication and language development may be hereditary and linked to the human genetic// makeup.

Researchers of Mount Sinai School of Medicine had found that Foxp2 gene is found in one of the regions of chromosome 7 and is linked to speech disorders, autism, and specific language impairment that can cause communication difficulties.

In the research where scientists have engineered mice with Foxp2 gene mutations, results demonstrate that infant mice with the mutations emitted disrupted ultrasonic vocalizations when separated from their mothers. The set of mice, which had severe form of mutations of the gene, had the most problem in expressing any form of communication to its other members of the race and had severe impairment of motor skills and did not live long.

The results suggest that mutations of this gene can cause disruptions in the maturation of neurons in the development of the cerebellum that is responsible for coordination of voluntary muscular movements like speech etc.

Researchers are hopeful that this study may open ways for establishing links between the Foxp2 gene and autism in children.

Reference: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, news release, June 2005

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