Hundreds of genes linked to intelligence in global study

March 14, 2018, University of Edinburgh
A depiction of the double helical structure of DNA. Its four coding units (A, T, C, G) are color-coded in pink, orange, purple and yellow. Credit: NHGRI

More than 500 genes linked to intelligence have been identified in the largest study of its kind. Scientists compared variation in DNA in more than 240,000 people from around the world, to discover which genes are associated with intelligence. Researchers identified 538 genes that play a role in intellectual ability. They also found 187 regions in the human genome that are linked to thinking skills.

Scientists say the study sheds new light on the biological building blocks of people's differences in . The research was carried out by the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton, and Harvard University.

Genes found to be linked to intelligence also appeared to influence other biological processes, researchers say. Some genes linked to are also associated with living longer, scientists found. They also found that genes linked with problem solving powers were associated with the process by which neurons carry signals from one place to another in the brain.

Using these genetic discoveries, scientists next predicted seven per cent of intelligence differences in an independent group of individuals using their DNA alone. "Our study identified a large number of genes linked to intelligence. Importantly, we were also able to identify some of the 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," says Dr. David Hill.

"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 influence them," says Professor Ian Deary.

The study used data from the UK Biobank, a major genetic study into the role of nature and nurture in health and disease.

It is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.  

Explore further: Intelligence is in the genes, but where?

More information: W. D. Hill et al. A combined analysis of genetically correlated traits identifies 187 loci and a role for neurogenesis and myelination in intelligence, Molecular Psychiatry (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41380-017-0001-5

Related Stories

Intelligence is in the genes, but where?

October 2, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—You can thank your parents for your smarts—or at least some of them. Psychologists have long known that intelligence, like most other traits, is partly genetic. But a new study led by psychological scientist ...

Personality trait shares genetic link with depression

December 21, 2017
Scientists analysed the DNA of over 300,000 people and found many genes linked to neuroticism – characterised by feelings of anxiety, worry and guilt. The genes are also linked to depression. The findings help shed light ...

Scientists link genes to brain anatomy in autism

February 27, 2018
A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has discovered that specific genes are linked to individual differences in brain anatomy in autistic children.

Intelligence 'networks' discovered in brain for the first time

December 21, 2015
Scientists from Imperial College London have identified for the first time two clusters of genes linked to human intelligence.

Six things we learned from that massive new study of intelligence genes

May 29, 2017
Genes help shape intelligence, period. That's not new news, even though it continues to be a source of dispute for a number of reasons, mostly historical.

Link between autism genes and higher intelligence, study suggests

March 10, 2015
Genes linked with a greater risk of developing autism may also be associated with higher intelligence, a study suggests.

Recommended for you

Deep data dive helps predict cerebral palsy

June 21, 2018
When University of Delaware molecular biologist Adam Marsh was studying the DNA of worms living in Antarctica's frigid seas to understand how the organisms managed to survive—and thrive—in the extremely harsh polar environment, ...

Ketamine acts fast to treat depression and its effects last—but how?

June 21, 2018
In contrast to most antidepressant medications, which can take several weeks to reduce depressive symptoms, ketamine—a commonly used veterinary anesthetic—can lift a person out of a deep depression within minutes of its ...

Psychiatric disorders share an underlying genetic basis

June 21, 2018
Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder often run in families. In a new international collaboration, researchers explored the genetic connections between these and other disorders of the brain at ...

One year of school comes with an IQ bump, meta-analysis shows

June 21, 2018
A year of schooling leaves students with new knowledge, and it also equates with a small but noticeable increase to students' IQ, according to a systematic meta-analysis published in Psychological Science, a journal of the ...

Mindful movement may help lower stress, anxiety

June 21, 2018
Taking a walk may be a good opportunity to mentally review your to-do list, but using the time to instead be more mindful of your breathing and surroundings may help boost your wellbeing, according to researchers.

Genetic variation in progesterone receptor tied to prematurity risk, study finds

June 21, 2018
Humans have unexpectedly high genetic variation in the receptor for a key pregnancy-maintaining hormone, according to research led by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The finding may help explain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.