Maternal and offspring dopamine D4 receptor genotypes interact to influence juvenile impulsivity in vervet monkeys

Psychol Sci. 2012 Oct 1;23(10):1099-104. doi: 10.1177/0956797612444905. Epub 2012 Sep 6.


The merging of psychological and genetic methodologies has led to an increasing appreciation of environmental moderators of the relationships between genotype and phenotype. Here we used a nonhuman-primate model to study the moderating effect of the mother's genotype on the association of a dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene polymorphism with juvenile impulsivity, assessed in a standardized social-challenge test. The results showed that juvenile carriers of the rare 5-repeat variant of the exon III 48-base-pair repeat polymorphism scored significantly higher in social impulsivity than juveniles homozygous for the common 6-repeat allele. In addition, juvenile genotype interacted with maternal genotype to influence impulsivity, with the highest rates of impulsivity found in variant offspring with variant mothers. These results highlight the importance of considering the genotype of the parents in studies of early experience and vulnerability genes for impulsivity-related traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Impulsive Behavior / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mothers*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4 / genetics*
  • Social Behavior*


  • Receptors, Dopamine D4