Tag Archives: Genetics

Dartmouth College study: Humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth

15 Apr

Moi reported about the effect stress has on genes in Penn State study: Stress alters children’s genomes https://drwilda.com/2014/04/08/penn-state-study-stress-alters-childrens-genomes/ A Tulane Medical School study finds that family violence or trauma alters a child’s genomes.

Science Daily reported in the article, Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children:

A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.
Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events….
The study found that gender moderated the impact of family instability. Traumatic family events were more detrimental to young girls as they were more likely to have shortened telomeres. There was also a surprising protective effect for boys: mothers who had achieved a higher level of education had a positive association with telomere length, but only in boys under 10.
Ultimately, the study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children, Drury said. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617102505.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook

See, https://drwilda.com/tag/stress/

Science Daily reported in Humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth:

Vertebrate species, including humans, exposed to stress prenatally tend to have higher stress hormones after birth, according to a new Dartmouth-led study published in Scientific Reports. While previous research has reported examples of maternal stress experience predicting offspring stress hormones in different species, this study is the first to empirically demonstrate the impact of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels using data from all known studies across vertebrates.
Through a meta-analysis of 114 results from a total of 39 observational and experimental studies across 14 vertebrate species, including birds, snakes, sheep and humans, the study examines the impact of prenatal exposure to maternal stress on offspring. The researchers analyzed the role of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis, the stress physiological system that is shared across all vertebrates, which ultimately, results in the production of stress hormones known as “glucocorticoids.” The HPA-axis is the hormonal system responsible for mobilizing an animal’s stress response. Offspring exposed prenatally to maternal stress were found to have more stress hormone levels (glucocorticoids) after birth. This could reflect a biological adaptation with an evolutionary history, as more stress hormones could increase an animal’s chances for survival in a stressful environment.
In the present study, the researchers tested the strength of the effect of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels across a range of characteristics. Remarkably, the effects of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormones were consistent across species, regardless of evolutionary relationships or factors, such as brain or body size. There were also no differences when considering offspring sex, age of the offspring at the time of assessment, or the timing of the stressor exposure prenatally or its severity.
Only two factors influenced the size of the effect. Experimental studies had a stronger effect than observational studies. In addition, studies that measured glucocorticoid recovery showed a greater association with prenatal stress than was observed at baseline or during peak glucocorticoid response….
An animal’s stress response tends to be activated by external factors, such as when its see a predator or whether food is availabile. Higher stress hormone levels among offspring may help extend survival but come at a cost and may affect other physiological systems, such as reproduction. In humans, the mere anticipation of stress or just thinking about prior experiences of discrimination or trauma can activate a stress response. Overactive stress hormones can lead to chronic health problems in humans, including anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.
One of the studies included in the meta-analysis looked at how maternal stress hormones in pregnant snow hares changed in relation to the abundance of their natural predators, lynxes, over a 10-year cycle. The research team found that in years where there were more lynxes, snow hare offspring had more stress hormones and anti-predator behaviors….’’ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180410161135.htm

Citation:

Humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth
Date: April 10, 2018
Source: Dartmouth College
Summary:
Vertebrate species, including humans, exposed to stress prenatally tend to have higher stress hormones after birth, according to a new study. While previous research has reported examples of maternal stress experience predicting offspring stress hormones in different species, this study is the first to empirically demonstrate the impact of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels using data from all known studies across vertebrates.

Journal Reference:
1. Zaneta M. Thayer, Meredith A. Wilson, Andrew W. Kim, Adrian V. Jaeggi. Impact of prenatal stress on offspring glucocorticoid levels: A phylogenetic meta-analysis across 14 vertebrate species. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-23169-w

Here is the press release from Dartmouth College:

Public Release: 10-Apr-2018
Study finds humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth
Dartmouth College
Vertebrate species, including humans, exposed to stress prenatally tend to have higher stress hormones after birth, according to a new Dartmouth-led study published in Scientific Reports. While previous research has reported examples of maternal stress experience predicting offspring stress hormones in different species, this study is the first to empirically demonstrate the impact of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels using data from all known studies across vertebrates.
Through a meta-analysis of 114 results from a total of 39 observational and experimental studies across 14 vertebrate species, including birds, snakes, sheep and humans, the study examines the impact of prenatal exposure to maternal stress on offspring. The researchers analyzed the role of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis, the stress physiological system that is shared across all vertebrates, which ultimately, results in the production of stress hormones known as “glucocorticoids.” The HPA-axis is the hormonal system responsible for mobilizing an animal’s stress response. Offspring exposed prenatally to maternal stress were found to have more stress hormone levels (glucocorticoids) after birth. This could reflect a biological adaptation with an evolutionary history, as more stress hormones could increase an animal’s chances for survival in a stressful environment.
In the present study, the researchers tested the strength of the effect of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels across a range of characteristics. Remarkably, the effects of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormones were consistent across species, regardless of evolutionary relationships or factors, such as brain or body size. There were also no differences when considering offspring sex, age of the offspring at the time of assessment, or the timing of the stressor exposure prenatally or its severity.
Only two factors influenced the size of the effect. Experimental studies had a stronger effect than observational studies. In addition, studies that measured glucocorticoid recovery showed a greater association with prenatal stress than was observed at baseline or during peak glucocorticoid response.
“Animals, including humans, modify their stress hormones in response to their environment. Your stress response is set like a thermostat– your body can amp up or down stress hormones in response to anticipated environmental conditions,” explains lead author Zaneta Thayer, an assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth.
An animal’s stress response tends to be activated by external factors, such as when its see a predator or whether food is availabile. Higher stress hormone levels among offspring may help extend survival but come at a cost and may affect other physiological systems, such as reproduction. In humans, the mere anticipation of stress or just thinking about prior experiences of discrimination or trauma can activate a stress response. Overactive stress hormones can lead to chronic health problems in humans, including anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.
One of the studies included in the meta-analysis looked at how maternal stress hormones in pregnant snow hares changed in relation to the abundance of their natural predators, lynxes, over a 10-year cycle. The research team found that in years where there were more lynxes, snow hare offspring had more stress hormones and anti-predator behaviors.
“Our stress response is meant to be adaptive to acute stress, such as being chased by predators. However, humans’ stress response is often triggered by social evaluative threats and is not serving the adaptive purpose that it was designed for,” added Thayer. “This research confirms what other scientists have long speculated that there are trends across species when it comes to linking prenatal stress and offspring hormonal stress responses.”
Prior work co-authored by Thayer has explored early origins of humans’ health disparities and the impacts of maternal stress during pregnancy on offspring’s postnatal stress hormone levels.
###
Thayer is available for comment at: Zaneta.Marie.Thayer@dartmouth.edu.
Meredith A. Wilson at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Andrew W. Kim at Northwestern University and Adrian V. Jaeggi at Emory University, also served as co-authors of the study.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
https://sciencesources.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/dc-sfh041018.php

Here is information about the Adverse Child Experiences Study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides access to the peer-reviewed publications resulting from The ACE Study. http://acestudy.org/
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/09/study-some-of-the-effects-of-adverse-stress-do-not-go-away/

Science Daily reported in Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development:

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research, conducted by scientists at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life; this is when memories are believed to be quickly forgotten — a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia.
“What our findings tell us is that children’s brains need to get enough and healthy activation even before they enter pre-school,” explains Cristina Alberini, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science, who led the study. “Without this, the neurological system runs the risk of not properly developing learning and memory functions…”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160718111939.htm

Citation:

Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development
Date: July 18, 2016
Source: New York University
Summary:
A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life.

Journal Reference:
1. Alessio Travaglia, Reto Bisaz, Eric S Sweet, Robert D Blitzer, Cristina M Alberini. Infantile amnesia reflects a developmental critical period for hippocampal learning. Nature Neuroscience, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nn.4348

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

The Effects of Stress on Your Body
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/effects-of-stress-on-your-body

The Physical Effects of Long-Term Stress
http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/the-physical-effects-of-long-term-stress/all/1/

Chronic Stress: The Body Connection
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53737

Understanding Stress Symptoms, Signs, Causes, and Effects
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:
COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

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Mc Gill University study: Fathers have a profound effect on the genetics of their children

11 Oct

Benedict Carey reports in the New York Times article, Father’s Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia:

Older men are more likely than young ones to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia, because of random mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age, scientists reported on Wednesday, in the first study to quantify the effect as it builds each year. The age of mothers had no bearing on the risk for these disorders, the study found.

Experts said that the finding was hardly reason to forgo fatherhood later in life, though it might have some influence on reproductive decisions. The overall risk to a man in his 40s or older is in the range of 2 percent, at most, and there are other contributing biological factors that are entirely unknown.
But the study, published online in the journal Nature, provides support for the argument that the surging rate of autism diagnoses over recent decades is attributable in part to the increasing average age of fathers, which could account for as many as 20 to 30 percent of cases.

The findings also counter the longstanding assumption that the age of the mother is the most important factor in determining the odds of a child having developmental problems. The risk of chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome, increases for older mothers, but when it comes to some complex developmental and psychiatric problems, the lion’s share of the genetic risk originates in the sperm, not the egg, the study found. Previous studies had strongly suggested as much, including an analysis published in April that found that this risk was higher at age 35 than 25 and crept up with age. The new report quantifies that risk for the first time, calculating how much it accumulates each year.

The research team found that the average child born to a 20-year-old father had 25 random mutations that could be traced to paternal genetic material. The number increased steadily by two mutations a year, reaching 65 mutations for offspring of 40-year-old men.

The average number of mutations coming from the mother’s side was 15, no matter her age, the study found.

“This study provides some of the first solid scientific evidence for a true increase in the condition” of autism, said Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. “It is extremely well done and the sample meticulously characterized.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/health/fathers-age-is-linked-to-risk-of-autism-and-schizophrenia.html?emc=eta1

A Mc Gill University study shows that fathers have a profound effect on the genetics of their children.

Science Daily reported in Environmental memories transmitted from a father to his grandchildren:

If you have diabetes, or cancer or even heart problems, maybe you should blame it on your dad’s behaviour or environment. Or even your grandfather’s. That’s because, in recent years, scientists have shown that, before his offspring are even conceived, a father’s life experiences involving food, drugs, exposure to toxic products and even stress can affect the development and health not only of his children, but even of his grandchildren.

But, despite a decade of work in the area, scientists haven’t been able to understand much about how this transmission of environmental memories over several generations takes place. McGill researchers and their Swiss collaborators think that they have now found a key part of the molecular puzzle. They have discovered that proteins known as histones, which have attracted relatively little attention until now, may play a crucial role in the process.

They believe that this finding, which they describe in a paper just published in Science, has the potential to profoundly change our understanding of how we inherit things. That’s because the researchers show that there is something apart from DNA that plays an important role in inheritance in general, and could determine whether a father’s children and grandchildren will be healthy or not….

There’s more than just DNA involved in inheritance

What they discovered was that there were dire consequences for the offspring both in terms of their development e.g. where offspring were prone to birth defects and had abnormal skeletal formation, and in terms of their surviving at all. Moreover, what was most surprising, was that these effects could still be seen two generations later.

“When we saw the decreased survivability across generations and the developmental abnormalities we were really blown away as it was never thought that altering something outside the DNA, i.e. a protein, could be involved in inheritance,” said Sarah Kimmins, from McGill’s Dept. of Animal Science, and one of the lead authors on the paper. Kimmins is also the Canada Research Chair in Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development.

Kimmins added, “These findings are remarkable because they indicate that information other than DNA is involved in heritability. The study highlights the critical role that fathers play in the health of their children and even grand-children. Since chemical modifications on histones are susceptible to environmental exposures, the work opens new avenues of investigation for the possible prevention and treatment of diseases of various kinds, affecting health across generations.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151008142622.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

Citation:

Environmental memories transmitted from a father to his grandchildren
Date: October 8, 2015

Source: McGill University

Summary:

If you have diabetes, or cancer or even heart problems, maybe you should blame it on your dad’s behavior or environment. Or even your grandfather’s. That’s because, in recent years, scientists have shown that, before his offspring are even conceived, a father’s life experiences involving food, drugs, exposure to toxic products and even stress can affect the development and health not only of his children, but even of his grandchildren. But, despite a decade of work in the area, scientists haven’t been able to understand much about how this transmission of environmental memories over several generations takes place. Scientists think that they have now found a key part of the molecular puzzle. They have discovered that proteins known as histones, which have attracted relatively little attention until now, may play a crucial role in the process.

Journal Reference:
1. Keith Siklenka, Serap Erkek, Maren Godmann, Romain Lambrot, Serge McGraw, Christine Lafleur, Tamara Cohen, Jianguo Xia, Matthew Suderman, Michael Hallett, Jacquetta Trasler, Antoine H. F. M. Peters, and Sarah Kimmins. Disruption of histone methylation in developing sperm impairs offspring health transgenerationally. Science, 8 October 2015 DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2006

Here is the press release from Mc Gill University:

The father effect

News

If you have diabetes, or cancer or even heart problems, maybe you should blame it on your dad’s behaviour or environment. Or even your grandfather’s. That’s because, in recent years, scientists have shown that, before his offspring are even conceived, a father’s life experiences involving food, drugs, exposure to toxic products and even stress can affect the development and health not only of his children, but even of his grandchildren.

But, despite a decade of work in the area, scientists haven’t been able to understand much about how this transmission of environmental memories over several generations takes place. McGill researchers and their Swiss collaborators think that they have now found a key part of the molecular puzzle. They have discovered that proteins known as histones, which have attracted relatively little attention until now, may play a crucial role in the process.

They believe that this finding, which they describe in a paper just published in Science, has the potential to profoundly change our understanding of how we inherit things. That’s because the researchers show that there is something apart from DNA that plays an important role in inheritance in general, and could determine whether a father’s children and grandchildren will be healthy or not.

Taking a new direction

In the past, most of the research in this area, which is known as epigenetics, has focused on a process involving DNA and certain molecules (known as methyl groups) that attach to DNA and act a bit like a dimmer switch – turning up or down the expression of specific genes.

The researchers were curious about whether histones might play a role in transmitting heritable information from fathers to their offspring because they are part of the content of sperm transmitted at fertilization. Histones are distinct from our DNA, although they combine with it during cell formation, acting a bit like a spool around which the DNA winds.

So, to test their theory about the possible role of histones in guiding embryo development the researchers created mice in which they slightly altered the biochemical information on the histones during sperm cell formation and then measured the results. (It’s a bit like putting a nick in a spool of thread and seeing how it affects the way the thread then loops around the spool.) They then studied the effects on the offspring.
________________________________________
• Gestational diabetes: A diabetes predictor in fathers
• Expectant dads get depressed too
________________________________________
There’s more than just DNA involved in inheritance

What they discovered was that there were dire consequences for the offspring both in terms of their development e.g. where offspring were prone to birth defects and had abnormal skeletal formation, and in terms of their surviving at all. Moreover, what was most surprising, was that these effects could still be seen two generations later.

“When we saw the decreased survivability across generations and the developmental abnormalities we were really blown away as it was never thought that altering something outside the DNA, i.e. a protein, could be involved in inheritance,” said Sarah Kimmins, from McGill’s Dept. of Animal Science, and one of the lead authors on the paper. Kimmins is also the Canada Research Chair in Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development.

Kimmins added, “These findings are remarkable because they indicate that information other than DNA is involved in heritability. The study highlights the critical role that fathers play in the health of their children and even grand-children. Since chemical modifications on histones are susceptible to environmental exposures, the work opens new avenues of investigation for the possible prevention and treatment of diseases of various kinds, affecting health across generations.”

Experts who have commented or are willing to be interviewed about the paper:
John R. McCarrey, Robert and Helen Kleberg Distinguished Chair in Cellular & Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio
Prof. Marisa Bartolomei, Dept. of Cell and Developmental Biology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

“While there is substantial evidence that fathers can transmit diseases and adverse phenotypes to their children in the absence of genetic mutations, this is the first study that shows a feasible mechanism by which this can happen. This gives researchers confidence to pursue histone retention in the male germ cells as a mechanism of inheritance….and it also will serve as a reminder to fathers to be diligent protectors of their germline.”

The research was funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Genome Quebec, the Reseau de Reproduction Quebecois, Fonds de recherche Nature et technologies (FRQNT), Boehringer Ingelheim Fond, Swiss National Science Foundation and the Novartis Research Foundation.

Contact Information
Contact:
Sarah Kimmins
Organization:
Dept. of Animal Science
Email:
sarah.kimmins@mcgill.ca
Secondary Contact Information
Contact:
Katherine Gombay
Organization:
Media Relations Office
Secondary Email:
katherine.gombay@mcgill.ca
Office Phone:
514-398-2189

The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education. Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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King’s College London study: Education achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits

13 Oct

Talking about the influence of genetics and learning is a touchy subject. The 1994 Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray started a wild fire. http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/The_Bell_Curve.html The King’s College focused on:

The high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behavior problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141006152151.htm

The study deals with the effect of genetics on emotional intelligence which is very important to achievement.

Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. wrote the excellent article, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for HELPGUIDE.Org.

What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others…. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq5_raising_emotional_intelligence.htm

Education achievement requires not only intelligence, but motivation, resilience, and conflict resolution.

Science Daily reported in the article, Why is educational achievement heritable?

New research, led by King’s College London finds that the high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behaviour problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), looked at 13,306 twins at age 16 who were part of the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded UK Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). The twins were assessed on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, and the researchers had access to their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores.

In total, 83 scales were condensed into nine domains: intelligence, self-efficacy (confidence in one’s own academic ability), personality, well-being, home environment, school environment, health, parent-reported behaviour problems and child reported behaviour problems.

Identical twins share 100% of their genes, and non-identical twins (just as any other siblings) share 50% of the genes that vary between people. Twin pairs share the same environment (family, schools, teachers etc). By comparing identical and non-identical twins, the researchers were able to estimate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors. So, if overall, identical twins are more similar on a particular trait than non-identical twins, the differences between the two groups are due to genetics, rather than environment.

Eva Krapohl, joint first author of the study, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s, says: “Previous work has already established that educational achievement is heritable. In this study, we wanted to find out why that is. What our study shows is that the heritability of educational achievement is much more than just intelligence — it is the combination of many traits which are all heritable to different extents.

“It is important to point out that heritability does not mean that anything is set in stone. It simply means that children differ in how easy and enjoyable they find learning and that much of these differences are influenced by genetics.”

The researchers found that the heritability of GCSE scores was 62%. Individual traits were between 35% and 58% heritable, with intelligence being the most highly heritable. Together, the nine domains accounted for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores.

Heritability is a population statistic which does not provide any information at an individual level. It describes the extent to which differences between children can be ascribed to DNA differences, on average, in a particular population at a particular time…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141006152151.htm

Citation:

Why is educational achievement heritable?
Date: October 6, 2014

Source: King’s College London
Summary:
The high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behavior problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence. The study looked at 13,306 twins at age 16 . The twins were assessed on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, and the researchers had access to their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores.
The high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence
1. Eva Krapohla,1,
2. Kaili Rimfelda,1,
3. Nicholas G. Shakeshafta,
4. Maciej Trzaskowskia,
5. Andrew McMillana,
6. Jean-Baptiste Pingaulta,b,
7. Kathryn Asburyc,
8. Nicole Harlaard,
9. Yulia Kovasa,e,f,
10. Philip S. Daleg, and
11. Robert Plomina,2
Significance
Differences among children in educational achievement are highly heritable from the early school years until the end of compulsory education at age 16, when UK students are assessed nationwide with standard achievement tests [General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)]. Genetic research has shown that intelligence makes a major contribution to the heritability of educational achievement. However, we show that other broad domains of behavior such as personality and psychopathology also account for genetic influence on GCSE scores beyond that predicted by intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores. These results underline the importance of genetics in educational achievement and its correlates. The results also support the trend in education toward personalized learning.
Abstract
Because educational achievement at the end of compulsory schooling represents a major tipping point in life, understanding its causes and correlates is important for individual children, their families, and society. Here we identify the general ingredients of educational achievement using a multivariate design that goes beyond intelligence to consider a wide range of predictors, such as self-efficacy, personality, and behavior problems, to assess their independent and joint contributions to educational achievement. We use a genetically sensitive design to address the question of why educational achievement is so highly heritable. We focus on the results of a United Kingdom-wide examination, the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), which is administered at the end of compulsory education at age 16. GCSE scores were obtained for 13,306 twins at age 16, whom we also assessed contemporaneously on 83 scales that were condensed to nine broad psychological domains, including intelligence, self-efficacy, personality, well-being, and behavior problems. The mean of GCSE core subjects (English, mathematics, science) is more heritable (62%) than the nine predictor domains (35–58%). Each of the domains correlates significantly with GCSE results, and these correlations are largely mediated genetically. The main finding is that, although intelligence accounts for more of the heritability of GCSE than any other single domain, the other domains collectively account for about as much GCSE heritability as intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the heritability of GCSE. We conclude that the high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence….

Here is the press release from King’s College:

News
Why is educational achievement heritable?
Posted on 06/10/2014
Exams
New research, led by King’s College London finds that the high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behaviour problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence.
The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), looked at 13,306 twins at age 16 who were part of the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded UK TEDS | The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). The twins were assessed on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, and the researchers had access to their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores.
In total, 83 scales were condensed into nine domains: intelligence, self-efficacy (confidence in one’s own academic ability), personality, well-being, home environment, school environment, health, parent-reported behaviour problems and child reported behaviour problems.
Identical twins share 100% of their genes, and non-identical twins (just as any other siblings) share 50% of the genes that vary between people. Twin pairs share the same environment (family, schools, teachers etc). By comparing identical and non-identical twins, the researchers were able to estimate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors. So, if overall, identical twins are more similar on a particular trait than non-identical twins, the differences between the two groups are due to genetics, rather than environment.
Eva Krapohl, joint first author of the study, from the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s, says: “Previous work has already established that educational achievement is heritable. In this study, we wanted to find out why that is. What our study shows is that the heritability of educational achievement is much more than just intelligence – it is the combination of many traits which are all heritable to different extents.
“It is important to point out that heritability does not mean that anything is set in stone. It simply means that children differ in how easy and enjoyable they find learning and that much of these differences are influenced by genetics.”
The researchers found that the heritability of GCSE scores was 62%. Individual traits were between 35% and 58% heritable, with intelligence being the most highly heritable. Together, the nine domains accounted for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores.
Heritability is a population statistic which does not provide any information at an individual level. It describes the extent to which differences between children can be ascribed to DNA differences, on average, in a particular population at a particular time.
Kaili Rimfeld, joint-lead author, also from the IoPPN at King’s says: “No policy implications necessarily follow from finding that genetics differences influence educational achievement, because policy depends on values and knowledge. However, our findings support the idea that a more personalized approach to learning may be more successful than a one size fits all approach. Finding that educational achievement is heritable certainly does not mean that teachers, parents or schools aren’t important. Education is more than what happens to a child passively; children are active participants in selecting, modifying, and creating their experiences – much of which is linked to their genetic propensities, known in genetics as genotype–environment correlation.”
TEDS is supported by the UK Medical Research Council with additional funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Paper reference: Krapohl, E. et al. “The high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence” published in PNAS.
For further information, please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London seil.collins@kcl.ac.uk / (+44) 0207 848 5377

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/

ALL children have a right to a good basic education.

Resources:
The Global Creativity Index http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2011/10/global-creativity-index/229/

The Rise of the Creative Class
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0205.florida.html

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