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Psychol Sci. 2010 Sep;21(9):1282-90. doi: 10.1177/0956797610380699. Epub 2010 Aug 23.

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

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Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


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.

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