Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 112–120 | Cite as

The genetics of music accomplishment: Evidence for gene–environment correlation and interaction

  • David Z. HambrickEmail author
  • Elliot M. Tucker-Drob
Brief Report


Theories of skilled performance that emphasize training history, such as K. Anders Ericsson and colleagues’ deliberate-practice theory, have received a great deal of recent attention in both the scientific literature and the popular press. Twin studies, however, have demonstrated evidence for moderate-to-strong genetic influences on skilled performance. Focusing on musical accomplishment in a sample of over 800 pairs of twins, we found evidence for gene–environment correlation, in the form of a genetic effect on music practice. However, only about one quarter of the genetic effect on music accomplishment was explained by this genetic effect on music practice, suggesting that genetically influenced factors other than practice contribute to individual differences in music accomplishment. We also found evidence for gene–environment interaction, such that genetic effects on music accomplishment were most pronounced among those engaging in music practice, suggesting that genetic potentials for skilled performance are most fully expressed and fostered by practice.


Music Talent Genetics Skill Individual differences 


Author note

E.M.T.-D. and D.Z.H. jointly developed the study concept and drafted the paper. The data analysis was performed by E.M.T.-D. E.M.T.-D. was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Grant No. R21-HD069772. The Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin is supported by NICHD Grant No. R24-HD042849.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Population Research CenterUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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