Psychology, Department of


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Published in Developmental Psychology 45:1 (2009), pp. 31-44; doi 10.1037/a0014550 Copyright © 2009 American Psychological Association. Used by permission. “This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.”


Genetic factors dynamically interact with both pre- and postnatal environmental influences to shape development. Considerable attention has been devoted to gene–environment interactions (G × E) on important outcomes (A. Caspi & T. E. Moffitt, 2006). It is also important to consider the possibility that these G × E effects may vary across development, particularly for constructs like self-regulation that emerge slowly, depend on brain regions that change qualitatively in different developmental periods, and thus may be manifested differently. To illustrate one approach to exploring such developmental patterns, the relation between variation in the TaqIA polymorphism, related to D2 dopamine receptor expression and availability, and prenatal exposure to tobacco was examined in two exploratory studies. First, in 4-week-old neonates, genotype–exposure interactions were observed for attention and irritable reactivity, but not for stress dysregulation. Second, in preschool children, genotype was related to Preschool Trail Making Test (K. A. Espy and M. F. Cwik, 2004) task performance on conditions requiring executive control; children with both the A1+ genotype and a history of prenatal tobacco exposure displayed disproportionately poor performance. Despite study limitations, these results illustrate the importance of examining the interplay between genetic and prenatal environmental factors across development.