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 http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/dev-48-4-932.pdf
Contact: Kevin Beaver, 850-322-1939, email@example.com
Audrey Hamilton | EurekAlert!
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences