A triad of genes determines how brilliant or dull you are at your studies, whether you complete your high school or attend college.
The three genes DAT1, DRD2 and DRD4, identified by researchers from Florida State University, are linked to attention regulation, motivation, violence, cognitive skills and intelligence.
They are known as dopamine transporter and receptor genes, present in every human being. But what is of interest are molecular differences within the genes, known as alleles, says Kevin Beaver, professor of criminology at Florida State University.
Subjects who possessed certain alleles within these genes achieved the highest levels of education, the journal Developmental Psychology reports.
“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 Beaver, who led the study, according to a Florida statement.
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 analysed 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.