Predicting sensation seeking from dopamine genes: A candidate-system approach

Jaime Derringer, Robert F. Krueger, Danielle M. Dick, Scott Saccone, Richard A. Grucza, Arpana Agrawal, Peng Lin, Laura Almasy, Howard J. Edenberg, Tatiana Foroud, John I. Nurnberger, Victor M. Hesselbrock, John R. Kramer, Samuel Kuperman, Bernice Porjesz, Marc A. Schuckit, Laura J. Bierut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Sensation seeking is a heritable personality trait that has been reliably linked to behavioral disorders. The dopamine system has been hypothesized to contribute to variations in sensation seeking between different individuals, and both experimental and observational studies in humans and nonhuman animals provide evidence for the involvement of the dopamine system in sensation-seeking behavior. In this study, we took a candidate-system approach to genetic association analysis of sensation-seeking behavior. We analyzed single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from a number of dopaminergic genes. Using 273 SNPs from eight dopamine genes in a sample of 635 unrelated individuals, we examined the aggregate effect of SNPs that were significantly associated with sensation-seeking behavior. Multiple SNPs in four dopamine genes accounted for significant variance in sensation-seeking behavior between individuals. These results suggest that multiple SNPs, aggregated within genes that are relevant to a specific neurobiological system, form a genetic-risk score that may explain a significant proportion of observed variance in human traits such as sensation-seeking behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1282-1290
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • association study
  • candidate gene
  • dopamine
  • sensation seeking


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