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Genotype by Environment Interactions in Cognitive Ability: A Survey of 14 Studies from Four Countries Covering Four Age Groups

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dylan Molenaar, Sophie van der Sluis, Dorret I Boomsma, Claire M A Haworth, John K Hewitt, Nicholas G Martin, Robert Plomin, Margaret J Wright, Conor V Dolan

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-219
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number3
Early online date10 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

King's Authors


A large part of the variation in cognitive ability is known to be due to genetic factors. Researchers have tried to identify modifiers that influence the heritability of cognitive ability, indicating a genotype by environment interaction (G×E). To date, such modifiers include measured variables like income and socioeconomic status. The present paper focuses on G×E in cognitive ability where the environmental variable is an unmeasured environmental factor that is uncorrelated in family members. We examined this type of G×E in the GHCA-database (Haworth et al., Behav Genet 39:359-370, 2009), which comprises data of 14 different cognition studies from four different countries including participants of different ages. Results indicate that for younger participants (4-13 years), the strength of E decreases across the additive genetic factor A, but that this effect reverts for older participants (17-34 years). However, a clear and general conclusion about the presence of a genuine G×E is hampered by differences between the individual studies with respect to environmental and genetic influences on cognitive ability.

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