Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Genes may play role in educational achievement, study finds

3 genes identified as possible markers for academic success

Researchers have identified genetic markers that may influence whether a person finishes high school and goes on to college, according to a national longitudinal study of thousands of young Americans. The study is in the July issue of Developmental Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association.

"Being able to show that specific genes are related in any way to academic achievement is a big step forward in understanding the developmental pathways among young people," said the study's lead author, Kevin Beaver, PhD, a professor at the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University.

The three genes identified in the study – DAT1, DRD2 and DRD4 – have been linked to behaviors such as attention regulation, motivation, violence, cognitive skills and intelligence, according to the study. Previous research has explored the genetic underpinnings of intelligence but virtually none has examined genes that potentially contribute to educational attainment in community samples, said Beaver.

He and his colleagues analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, also known as Add Health. Add Health is a four-wave study of a nationally representative sample of American youths who were enrolled in middle or high school in 1994 and 1995. The study continued until 2008, when most of the respondents were between the ages of 24 and 32. The participants completed surveys, provided DNA samples and were interviewed, along with their parents. The sample used for this analysis consisted of 1,674 respondents.

The genes identified in this research are known as dopamine transporter and receptor genes. Every person has the genes DAT1, DRD2 and DRD4, but what is of interest are molecular differences within the genes, known as alleles, according to Beaver. Subjects who possessed certain alleles within these genes achieved the highest levels of education, according to the findings.

Dopamine transporter genes assist in the production of proteins that regulate levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, while dopamine receptor genes are involved in neurotransmission. Previous research has shown that dopamine levels play a role in regulating impulsive behavior, attention and intelligence.

The presence of the alleles alone did not guarantee higher levels of education, the study found. Having a lower IQ was more strongly associated with lower levels of education. Also, living in poverty and essentially "running with a bad crowd" resulted in lower levels of education despite the genetic effects.

Even though the genetic variants were found to be associated with educational levels, having a specific allele does not determine whether someone will graduate from high school or earn a college degree, according to Beaver. Rather, these genes work in a probabilistic way, with the presence of certain alleles simply increasing or decreasing the likelihood of educational outcomes, he said. "No one gene is going to say, 'Sally will graduate from high school' or 'Johnny will earn a college degree,'" he said. "These genetic effects operate indirectly, through memory, violent tendencies and impulsivity, which are all known predictors of how well a kid will succeed in school. If we can keep moving forward and identify more genetic markers for educational achievement, we can begin to truly understand how genetics play a role in how we live and succeed in life."

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Article: "Dopaminergic Polymorphisms and Educational Achievement: Results From a Longitudinal Sample of Americans," Kevin M. Beaver, PhD, Florida State University; John Paul Wright, PhD, University of Cincinnati; Matt DeLisi, PhD, Iowa State University; Michael G. Vaughn, PhD, Saint Louis University; Developmental Psychology, Vol. 48, No. 4.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at

Contact: Kevin Beaver, 850-322-1939,

Audrey Hamilton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>