The −521 C/T variant in the dopamine-4-receptor gene (DRD4) is associated with skiing and snowboarding behavior


Corresponding author: Cynthia Thomson, School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia, 210-6081 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z1. Tel: +1 604 822 9331, Fax: +1 604 822 6842, E-mail:


Sensation seeking is the tendency to seek out new and thrilling experiences and to take risks for the sake of such experiences. A single-nucleotide polymorphism, −521 C/T (rs1800955) in the promoter region of the dopamine-4-receptor gene (DRD4), is associated with approach-related traits including novelty seeking and extraversion, in some, but not all studies. To our knowledge, no studies have been conducted on the genetics of risk-taking behavior in sports. Using a joint-analysis approach, we measured sensation seeking in two cohorts of experienced male and female skiers and snowboarders (n = 503) using a sports-specific tool developed for this study, the Contextual Sensation Seeking Questionnaire for Skiing and Snowboarding (CSSQ-S), and a more general trait measure, the Zuckerman–Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire impulsive sensation-seeking subscale. We detected, and then replicated a significant association between the DRD4 −521CC genotype and sports-specific sensation seeking as measured using the CSSQ-S (P < 0.001). These data suggest that the DRD4 −521 C/T polymorphism contributes to a “risk-taking phenotype” in skiers and snowboarders, but the variant was not associated with impulsive sensation seeking (P = 0.9).