Molecular windows into speech and language disorders

Fisher, S. E. (2007). Molecular windows into speech and language disorders. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 59, 130-140. doi:10.1159/000101771.
Why do some children fail to acquire speech and language skills despite adequate environmental input and overtly normal neurological and anatomical development? It has been suspected for several decades, based on indirect evidence, that the human genome might hold some answers to this enigma. These suspicions have recently received dramatic confirmation with the discovery of specific genetic changes which appear sufficient to derail speech and language development. Indeed, researchers are already using information from genetic studies to aid early diagnosis and to shed light on the neural pathways that are perturbed in these inherited forms of speech and language disorder. Thus, we have entered an exciting era for dissecting the neural bases of human communication, one which takes genes and molecules as a starting point. In the current article I explain how this recent paradigm shift has occurred and describe the new vistas that have opened up. I demonstrate ways of bridging the gaps between molecules, neurons and the brain, which will provide a new understanding of the aetiology of speech and language impairments.
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