Exploring the Relationships Between Autozygosity, Educational Attainment, and Cognitive Ability in a Contemporary, Trans-Ancestral American Sample

Sarah Mc Colbert, Matthew C. Keller, Arpana Agrawal, Emma C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous studies have found significant associations between estimated autozygosity - the proportion of an individual’s genome contained in homozygous segments due to distant inbreeding - and multiple traits, including educational attainment (EA) and cognitive ability. In one study, estimated autozygosity showed a stronger association with parental EA than the subject’s own EA. This was likely driven by parental EA’s association with mobility: more educated parents tended to migrate further from their hometown, and because of the strong correlation between ancestry and geography in the Netherlands, these individuals chose partners farther from their ancestry and therefore more different from them genetically. We examined the associations between estimated autozygosity, cognitive ability, and parental EA in a contemporary sub-sample of adolescents from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study℠ (ABCD Study®) (analytic N = 6,504). We found a negative association between autozygosity and child cognitive ability consistent with previous studies, while the associations between autozygosity and parental EA were in the expected direction of effect (with greater levels of autozygosity being associated with lower EA) but the effect sizes were significantly weaker than those estimated in previous work. We also found a lower mean level of autozygosity in the ABCD sample compared to previous autozygosity studies, which may reflect overall decreasing levels of autozygosity over generations. Variation in spousal similarities in ancestral background in the ABCD study compared to other studies may explain the pattern of associations between estimated autozygosity, EA, and cognitive ability in the current study.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavior genetics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Assortative mating
  • Autozygosity
  • Cognitive ability
  • Educational attainment
  • Runs of homozygosity

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