September 05, 2010
Dopamine Gene Variants Cut Student Performance?

Blame your bad grades on your dopamine gene variants.

The academic performance of adolescents will suffer in at least one of four key subjects –– English, math, science, history –– if their DNA contains one or more of three specific dopamine gene variations, according to a study led by renowned biosocial criminologist Kevin M. Beaver of The Florida State University.

The research sheds new light on the genetic components of academic performance during middle and high school, and on the interplay of specific genes and environmental factors such as peer behavior or school conditions.

They looked at 2,500 kids enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health over 14 years to reach this conclusion. Once gene sequencing becomes really cheap imagine what will be discovered if the same 2,500 have their full genomes sequenced and they are given IQ tests as well. We are getting close to when most of the genetic variants that influence IQ will be discovered.

“We believe that dopaminergic genes affect GPA because they have previously been linked to factors associated with academic performance, including adolescent delinquency, working memory, intelligence and cognitive abilities, and ADHD, among others,” Beaver said. “So, the genetic effect would operate indirectly via these other correlates to GPA and school performance.”

What's needed: For a group like these students to be given many tests of cognitive performance and personality.Then do full genome sequencing and genetic testing for large copy variations that sequencing might not catch.

3 different dopamine genes have variants correlated with scholastic performance.

For instance, they found a marginally significant negative effect on English grades for students with a single dopamine variant in a gene known as DAT1, but no apparent effect on math, history or science. In contrast, a variant in the DRD2 gene was correlated with a markedly negative effect on grades in all four subjects. Students with a single, DRD4 variant had significantly lower grades in English and math, but only marginally lower grades in history and science.

In 10 years I predict it will become commonplace for especially ambitious prospective parents to opt for in vitro fertilization (IVF) combined with genetic testing to do embryo selection for most desired genetic characteristics. Why run the risk of giving birth to merely average or even sociopathic criminal kids? Parents will jump at the chance to reduce risks and produce better outcomes.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 September 05 08:05 PM  Brain Intelligence


Comments
WJ Alden said at September 6, 2010 2:27 AM:

For instance, they found a marginally significant negative effect on English grades for students with a single dopamine variant in a gene known as DAT1, but no apparent effect on math, history or science."

Based on this alone I'd guess that I have the DAT1 variant: great scores in math, history, and science, but I scored lower on the English portion of the ACT and the verbal portion of the SAT. DAT1 is also connected to a significant increase in alcoholism: check for some of my family (brother, 2 cousins, grandfather) but not me (though I am tipsy as I type this). DAT1 is also related to likelihood of ADHD: again, check.

DAT1 carriers also show an enhanced repsonse to methylphenidate (Ritalin/Concerta). I am currently on bupropion (Wellbutrin) and may very well switch to Ritalin or Concerta shortly, if the Wellbutrin fails to work.

James Bowery said at September 6, 2010 10:22 AM:

SPLC Intelligence Report notified.

There is no place anywhere in the world for Nazi pseudo-science.

Clarium said at September 6, 2010 2:37 PM:

Gee... Randall, how do you know that if the effect is real (the abstract does not give the p-values), that it is to its effect on general intelligence, not conscientiousness? And how much do these polymorphism explain variance within the general population?

Doing a google scholar search on DAT1, DRD2, and DRD4 yields literature about its impact on ADHD; I haven't found much on IQ though.

Here it are some links on its effect (or lack of it) on IQ:

http://www.springerlink.com/content/axtdnebr73jugl4t/
http://journals.lww.com/neuroreport/Abstract/1998/01260/Dopamine_markers_and_general_cognitive_ability.31.aspx

(Unfortunately, the studies have a very small sample size with out 102 and 149 in them. But instead of using the general population as a "test group" they tested about 51 to 71 high IQ people (130+) with an average IQ control group. )

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