THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Could the secret to educational achievement lie in a person's DNA? A major new study suggests that genes do play some role in how well an individual does at school.
The international team of researchers tested hundreds of thousands of genetic markers to track links between genetic variation and the level of education people achieved, including whether or not they graduated from college.
"We have now taken a small but important first step toward identifying the specific genetic variants that predict educational attainment," study co-author NYU sociologist Dalton Conley, a sociologist at New York University, said in a university news release.
Although they have not spotted an "education gene," he and his colleagues believe the findings could also shed light on certain memory and learning problems.
"We hope that our findings will eventually be useful for understanding biological processes underlying learning, memory, reading disabilities and cognitive decline in the elderly," said another co-author, Daniel Benjamin, a behavioral economist at Cornell and co-director of the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium.
The consortium's findings were the result of a genome-wide association study that pooled information form more than 125,000 people from the United States, Australia and 13 western European countries -- a total sample size more than 10 times larger than any previous genetic study of its kind.
Since the study included people from around the world, the researchers used a common measure of educational achievement, known as the International Standard Classification of Education scale, to analyze genetic variants called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs -- tiny changes found at one location in a person's genetic code.
Analysis of over 2 million SNPs allowed the team to explain about 2 percent of the variation in educational achievement among the s
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