Hundreds of new genetic loci associated with intelligence and neuroticism have been identified, substantially broadening understanding of cognitive function, report two papers published online this week in Nature Genetics.
Danielle Posthuma and colleagues analysed the genetic data and measurements of intelligence of more than 250,000 individuals. They find 190 new genomic loci and 1,016 specific genes - of which 939 are new - that are associated with intelligence. Based on their analysis, the authors suggest that increased intelligence may protect against both Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD. They also identify genetic pathways relating to nervous system development and synaptic structure.
In another study, the same authors focus on neuroticism, which is an important risk factor for depression and schizophrenia. Analysing almost half a million individuals, they identify over 500 genes associated with neuroticism. The authors describe two distinct genetic subclusters of neuroticism, one relating to depressed affect and the other to worry.
Together, these studies provide new insights into the neurobiology and genetics of cognition. The authors suggest that these datasets may aid future research into neuropsychiatric diseases.