Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic influences on cognition increase with age

Date:
October 1, 2013
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
New psychology research shows how genes can be stimulated or suppressed depending on the child's environment and could help bridge the achievement gap between rich and poor students.

Genes influencing cognition become activated during the first decade of life and accelerate over time. The results emphasize the importance of early literacy and education during the first decade of life.
Credit: auremar / Fotolia

About 70 percent of a person's intelligence can be explained by their DNA -- and those genetic influences only get stronger with age, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.

The study, authored by psychology researchers Elliot Tucker-Drob, Daniel Briley and Paige Harden, shows how genes can be stimulated or suppressed depending on the child's environment and could help bridge the achievement gap between rich and poor students. The findings are published online in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

To investigate the underlying mechanisms at work, Tucker-Drob and his colleagues analyzed data from several studies tracking the cognitive ability and environmental circumstances of twin and sibling pairs. According to the findings, genetic factors account for 80 percent of cognition for children in economically advantaged households. Yet disadvantaged children -- who rank lower in cognitive performance across the board -- show almost no progress attributable to their genetic makeup.

This doesn't mean disadvantaged children are genetically inferior. Instead, they have less high-quality opportunities, such as learning resources and parental involvement, to reach their genetic potential, Tucker-Drob says.

"Genetic influences on cognitive ability are maximized when people are free to select their own learning experiences," says Tucker-Drob, who is an assistant professor of psychology. "We were born with blueprints; the question is how are we using our experiences to build upon our genetic makeup?"

In a related study, Daniel Briley, a psychology doctoral student, examined how genetic and environmental influences on cognition change over time. Using meta-analytic procedures -- the statistical methods used to analyze and combine results from previous, related literature -- Briley examined genetic and environmental influences on cognition in twin and sibling pairs from infancy to adolescence.

According to his findings, published in the July issue of Psychological Science, genes influencing cognition become activated during the first decade of life and accelerate over time. The results emphasize the importance of early literacy and education during the first decade of life.

"As children get older, their parents and teachers give them increasing autonomy to do their homework to the best of their ability, pay attention in class, and choose their peer group," says Briley. "Each of these behaviors likely influences their academic development. If these types of behaviors are influenced by genes, then it would explain why the heritability of cognitive ability increases as children age."

Tucker-Drob says this research highlights the possibilities for bridging the achievement gap between the rich and poor.

"The conventional view is that genes place an upper limit on the effects of social intervention on cognitive development," says Tucker-Drob. "This research suggests the opposite. As social, educational and economic opportunities increase in a society, more children will have access to the resources they need to maximize their genetic potentials."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. M. Tucker-Drob, D. A. Briley, K. P. Harden. Genetic and Environmental Influences on Cognition Across Development and Context. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2013; 22 (5): 349 DOI: 10.1177/0963721413485087

Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Austin. "Genetic influences on cognition increase with age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131001141218.htm>.
University of Texas at Austin. (2013, October 1). Genetic influences on cognition increase with age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131001141218.htm
University of Texas at Austin. "Genetic influences on cognition increase with age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131001141218.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins