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SCIENCE More than 500 genes linked to intelligence have been identified in the largest study of its kind

Published 13 Mar 2018 11:23AM

Words by Huey Emmerich | Staff Writer

“Our study identified a large number of genes linked to intelligence. Importantly, we were also able to identify some of the biological processes that genetic variation appears to influence to produce such differences in intelligence, and we were also able to predict intelligence in another group using only their DNA.” - Dr David Hill Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology

Researchers used data from the UK Biobank, comparing DNA variants from more than 240,000 people. Their analysis identified 538 genes linked to intellectual ability, and 187 regions of the human genome that are associated with thinking skills. Some of these genes are also linked to other biological processes, including living longer.

“Summary statistics were obtained from GWAS meta-analyses of intelligence (n = 78,308) [16], and education (n = 329,417) [25]. To maximise sample size in our intelligence dataset, four additional GWASs were performed on the verbal-numerical reasoning (VNR) test in UK Biobank. The VNR test consists of 13 items, 6 verbal and 7 numerical questions, all of which are multiple choice.

An individual’s verbal numerical reasoning score was measured by summing the number of correct responses given within a 2 minute time period.” was one part of the method used for the study.

“We know that environments and genes both contribute to the differences we observe in people’s intelligence. This study adds to what we know about which genes influence intelligence, and suggests that health and intelligence are related in part because some of the same genes influence them.” - Professor Ian Deary, Principal Investigator Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology

The paper, published in Nature Molecular Psychiatry, goes onto state “People with a higher level of cognitive function have been observed to have better physical and mental health, and to have longer lives”




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