Advanced paternal age (APA) at conception has been associated with negative outcomes in offspring, raising concerns about increasing age at fatherhood. Evidence from evolutionary and psychological research, however, suggests possible link between APA and a phenotypic advantage. We defined such advantage as educational success, which is positively associated with future socioeconomic status. We hypothesised that high IQ, strong focus on the subject of interest and little concern about 'fitting in' will be associated with such success. Although these traits are continuously distributed in the population, they cluster together in so-called 'geeks'. We used these measures to compute a 'geek index' (GI), and showed it to be strongly predictive of future academic attainment, beyond the independent contribution of the individual traits. GI was associated with paternal age in male offspring only, and mediated the positive effects of APA on education outcomes, in a similar sexually dimorphic manner. The association between paternal age and GI was partly mediated by genetic factors not correlated with age at fatherhood, suggesting contribution of de novo factors to the 'geeky' phenotype. Our study sheds new light on the multifaceted nature of the APA effects and explores the intricate links between APA, autism and talent.
- Journal Article