Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Bruce F. Pennington, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Erik G. Willcutt

Third Advisor

Benjamin Hankin

Fourth Advisor

Cynthia McRae


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, Bioecological, Diathesis-stress, Gene by environment interactions, Molecular genetics, Reading disability


The goal of this study is to better understand the genetic basis of Reading Disability (RD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by examining molecular G x E interactions with parental education for each disorder. Research indicates that despite sharing genetic risk factors, RD and ADHD are influenced by different types of G x E interactions with parental education - a diathesis stress interaction in the case of ADHD and a bioecological interaction in RD. In order to resolve this apparent paradox, we conducted a preliminary study using behavioral genetic methods to test for G x E interactions in RD and the inattentive subtype of ADHD (ADHD-I) in the same sample of monozygotic and dizygotic Colorado Learning Disabilities Research Center same-sex twin pairs (DeFries et al., 1997), and our findings were consistent with the literature. We posited a genetic hypothesis for this opposite pattern of interactions, which suggests that only genes specific to each disorder enter into these opposite interactions, not the shared genes underlying their comorbidity.

This study sought to further investigate this paradox using molecular genetics methods. We examined multiple candidate genes identified for RD or related language phenotypes and those identified for ADHD for G x E interactions with parental education. The specific aims of this study were as follows: 1) partition known risk alleles for RD and/or related language phenotypes and ADHD-I into those which are pleiotropic and non-pleiotropic by testing each risk allele for association with both RD and ADHD-I, 2) explore the main effects of parental education on both RD and ADHD-I, 3) address G-E correlations, and 4) conduct exploratory G x E interaction analyses in order to test the genetic hypothesis.

Analyses suggested a number of pleiotropic genes that influence both RD and ADHD; however, results did not remain after correcting for multiple comparisons. Although exploratory G x E interaction findings were not significant after multiple comparison correction, results suggested a G x E interaction in the bioecological direction with KIAA0319, parental education, and ADHD-I. Given the limited power in the current study, replication of these findings with larger samples is necessary.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jennifer Rosenberg


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

99 p.


Clinical Psychology