Forty new genes associated with intelligence are reported in a paper published online this week in Nature Genetics. The study could provide new biological insights into brain function and cognition, and help to define the genetic component of IQ.
Danielle Posthuma and colleagues performed an analysis of genetic data related to measurements of intelligence (a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for intelligence) for nearly 80,000 individuals of European descent, including both childhood and adult cohorts. The large sample size provided the authors with the analytical power to identify so many novel genes.
The authors then shed light on the specific regions of the genome that contribute to intelligence. They found 22 genes, 11 of which are novel, that are associated with intelligence using one type of analysis (GWAS) and an additional 29 novel genes using another approach (genome-wide gene association analysis (GWGAS)). These genes are mainly expressed in the brain and are involved in cell development pathways. This information can help researchers focus their studies on specific genes and pathways to learn more about intelligence and brain development.