Gene × Environment Interactions in Reading Disability and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Bruce F. Pennington, Lauren M. McGrath, Jenni Rosenberg, Holly Barnard, Shelley D. Smith, Erik G. Willcutt, Angela Friend, John C. DeFries, Richard K. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


This article examines Gene × Environment (G × E) interactions in two comorbid developmental disorders-reading disability (RD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-as a window on broader issues on G × E interactions in developmental psychology. The authors first briefly review types of G × E interactions, methods for detecting them, and challenges researchers confront in interpreting such interactions. They then review previous evidence for G × E interactions in RD and ADHD, the directions of which are opposite to each other: bioecological for RD and diathesis stress for ADHD. Given these results, the authors formulate and test predictions about G × E interactions that would be expected at the favorable end of each symptom dimension (e.g., above-average reading or attention). Consistent with their prediction, the authors found initial evidence for a resilience interaction for above-average reading: higher heritability in the presence of lower parental education. However, they did not find a G × E interaction at the favorable end of the ADHD symptom dimension. The authors conclude with implications for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Gene × Environment interactions
  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • bioecological interactions
  • diathesis-stress interactions
  • reading disability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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