In this study we examined the potential of technology-enhanced educational programs for young children lagging behind in emergent literacy skills. Differential effects of technology-enhanced educational programs for poor performers were tested in a randomized controlled trial. Our previous study showed that children with a dopamine-related genetic polymorphism - DRD4 7-repeat - are more susceptible to their learning environment than children without this polymorphism, serving as a proxy for the dopamine-system related genetic pathway. In the current study, we aimed to replicate and extend these results in a sample of 583 kindergarteners from 136 schools. As predicted by the genetic differential susceptibility theory, carriers of the DRD4 7-repeat allele profited significantly from Living Books (d = 0.75), whereas non-carriers did not benefit (d = 0.02). Living Letters did not show a Gene × Environment interaction. We discuss why carriers of DRD4 7-repeat allele particularly benefit from Living Books.

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Learning and Instruction
Department of Pedagogical Sciences

Plak, R.D. (Rachel D.), Merkelbach, I. (Inge), Kegel, C., van IJzendoorn, R., & Bus, A. (2016). Brief computer interventions enhance emergent academic skills in susceptible children: A gene-by-environment experiment. Learning and Instruction, 45, 1–8. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2016.06.002