Educational attainment polygenic score predicts inhibitory control and academic skills in early and middle childhood

Gianna Rea-Sandin, Veronica Oro, Emma Strouse, Sierra Clifford, Melvin N. Wilson, Daniel S. Shaw, Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Inhibitory control skills are important for academic outcomes across childhood, but it is unknown whether inhibitory control is implicated in the association between genetic variation and academic performance. This study examined the relationship between a GWAS-based (EduYears) polygenic score indexing educational attainment (EA PGS) and inhibitory control in early (Mage = 3.80 years) and middle childhood (Mage = 9.18 years), and whether inhibitory control in early childhood mediated the relation between EA PGS and academic skills. The sample comprised 731 low-income and racially/ethnically diverse children and their families from the longitudinal early steps multisite study. EA PGS predicted middle childhood inhibitory control (estimate = 0.09, SE = 0.05, p < 0.05) and academic skills (estimate = 0.18, SE = 0.05, p < 0.01) but did not predict early childhood inhibitory control (estimate = 0.08, SE = 0.05, p = 0.11); thus, mediation was not tested. Sensitivity analyses showed that effect sizes were similar across European and African American groups. This study suggests that inhibitory control could serve as a potential mechanism linking genetic differences to educational outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12762
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • academic skills
  • educational attainment
  • inhibitory control
  • longitudinal
  • polygenic score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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