Scientists have always thought intelligence is determined by genes, but they were only to identify only a few which were clearly related. Now, a huge scale discovery marks the identification of 52 new genes, out of which 40 have never been linked to intelligence before. The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Around 80,000 people originating from Europe participated in the study. Researchers analyzed their genomes and looked for unique genetic traits. Then, they compared their results with the IQs of the participants. The big sample of people present in the study helped the scientists determine with accuracy which genes were prevalent among people with high IQs.
Brain genes determine intelligence
Some genes were more strongly linked to intelligence but, in general, most genes influenced the intelligence level at the same rate. Researchers were surprised to find so many genetic items which determined the presence of this trait. As expected, most intelligence genes were related to brain function and structure.
The author of the study, Danielle Posthuma from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, explained how most of these brain genes are expressed.
“Most are involved in regulating cell development. Some specific genes are mostly involved in synaptic function.”
Some of the genes have previously been identified with other traits
What is interesting about some of these genes is that they have been previously linked with other traits. For instance, shank3 was regarded as related to autism. In fact, other studies found a link between autism traits and intelligence, although some people with autism struggle with learning.
Now, researchers are planning to perform a more advanced study of the genes and identify their function. Also, they want to see if some of them are present only in certain people. Also, these people might have different genes which determine other types of synaptic functions.
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