In a remarkable discovery, scientists have identified a whopping 1,016 specific genes associated with intelligence, many of which were hitherto unknown to science.
The study was headed by statistical geneticist Danielle Posthuma at Amsterdam’s Free University in the Netherlands. The international team conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of almost 270,000 participants – with some very fruitful results.
The large-scale study led to the unearthing of 190 new genomic loci (a fixed position on a chromosome) and 939 new genes associated with intelligence. The discovery serves to enlighten human understanding of the genetic makeup of cognitive ability.
Participants took part in neurocognitive tests that measured their intelligence. Scores were then compared with their DNA, alerting scientists to which mutations are associated with higher intelligence. This led to some other genetic discoveries, namely that the intelligence genes correlated with increased instances of autism, along with longevity, suggesting that carriers could be prone to living longer lives.
What’s more, the 270,000-strong sample led to the detection of over nine million mutations. Wading through this information, the team identified 205 regions in DNA code linked with intelligence – including 190 unprecedented ones. Of the 1,016 specific genes identified, 939 of these were brand new discoveries.
Meanwhile, presence of these genes demonstrated a negative correlation with cognitive health disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depressive symptoms.
"Our results indicate overlap in the genetic processes involved in both cognitive functioning and neurological and psychiatric traits and provide suggestive evidence of causal associations that may drive these correlations," explained the researchers.
"These results are important for understanding the biological underpinnings of cognitive functioning and contribute to understanding of related neurological and psychiatric disorders."