by Julia Newman (’19)
The Journal of Molecular Psychiatry recently published research that suggests a factor of predictability in children’s educational achievement. Previous studies have assumed that variances among children’s school performances may be explained by one large difference in their genetic makeup, but Dr. Selzam and his team of researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience in London found that it is much more likely to be the result of many small differences called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). This discovery allowed the research to be more conclusive than ever before.
The scientists used two different scales in order to collect their results. They recorded each child’s genome-wide polygenic score (GPS), which is the number of SNPs present. They also collected EduYears, which are the number of years of education, in order to determine whether a correlation with educational achievement exists. According to the results of the studies, children ages seven to sixteen years old all showed that a high GPS EduYears score was, in fact, correlated with high educational achievement. While other factors such as socioeconomic status of the children’s families also showed a positive trend with a child’s educational success, it was found that up to four percent of the variance can be explained by SNPs alone, proving that one’s environment is not the only determining factor in educational achievement.
- Selzam et al., Predicting educational achievement from DNA. Journal of Molecular Psychiatry (2016).
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