Researchers discover genetic links showing formal education attainment
It is common knowledge that environmental and social factors affect a person’s education, but this new discovery shows that genetics could also be a key factor in whether a person pursues formal education.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Office of Behavior Social Sciences Research supported this genome-wide association study (GWAS).
“This is an interesting development in behavior genetics,” NIA Director Richard Hodes said. “It extends our understanding of the connection between the genetic components of cognition and years of formal education.”
These 74 different areas, called loci, are found on human chromosomes. The loci connect with other correlating areas that show heightened intracranial volume and cognitive performance. These regions are also connected to reduced chances of Alzheimer’s disease and lowered levels of emotional instability or neuroticism.
“These study results will enable us to ask more refined questions about the genetic and environmental underpinnings of educational attainment and their health consequences,” Jonathan King, program director in NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research, which supports the SSGAC, said.
Researchers believe that it is crucial to learn more about human genetics to prevent and treat diseases.
“The results of this study and future work will enable us to better understand how these pathways interact,” King said. “Perhaps ultimately, we’ll be able to learn why and how educational attainment seems to be protective of cognition in later life.”