If their DNA contains one or more of three specific dopamine gene variations, a new study has revealed that the academic performance of adolescents will suffer in at least one of four key subjects-English, math, science, history.
Kevin M. Beaver of The Florida State University 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.
"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."
He and his co-authors performed their groundbreaking analysis using DNA and lifestyle data from a representative group of 2,500 U.S. middle- and high-school students who were tracked from 1994 to 2008 in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
"We found that as the number of certain dopaminergic gene variants increased, grade point averages decreased, and the difference was statistically significant," Beaver said.
Findings from the study has been published online Aug. 30 in the journal Intelligence.