"However, it's also clear just how important our life experience is in making us better at one or the other. It's this complex interplay of nature and nurture as we grow up that shapes who we are."
Fellow researcher Robert Plomin, a professor at King's College London, said the study was the first to estimate the impact from DNA alone on learning ability.
But, he stressed, the genetic variants that were identified were not specific "literacy or numeracy" genes.
Instead, they formed part of a more complex mechanism in which many genes each exercised a small, but combined, effect on learning ability.
"Children differ genetically in how easy or difficult they find learning, and we need to recognize and respect these individual differences," said Plomin.
"Finding such strong genetic influence does not mean that there is nothing we can do if a child finds learning difficult," he said.
"Heritability does not imply that anything is set in stone -- it just means it may take more effort from parents, schools and teachers to bring the child up to speed."