Research highlight

Genetics of reading, writing and arithmetic

Nature Genetics

July 24, 2018

New genetic variants associated with education are identified in a study of over one million people published online this week in Nature Genetics. The candidate genes implicated in the study have roles in brain development and neuronal communication.

Daniel Benjamin and colleagues examined the genetic composition and educational history of over one million individuals. With such a large sample size, the authors were able to discover more than 1,200 genetic variants associated with years spent in school - over ten times more loci than found in previous studies. They also analyzed test performance, self-reported math abilities and the highest-level mathematics class each individual had completed, and found hundreds of genetic associations for these related traits.

Implicated genes have increased expression levels in the pre- and postnatal brain and have roles in neurotransmitter secretion and synaptic plasticity. This large dataset of associated genetic loci will aid future studies on how genes and environment interact to influence cognitive phenotypes.

doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0147-3

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