“Intelligence” Gene Identified
A team from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research examined the genetic blueprints of individuals with schizophrenia – a neuropsychiatric disorder characterised by cognitive impairment – and then compared them with healthy volunteers.
They discovered that the dysbindin-1 gene (DTNBP1), which they previously demonstrated to be associated with schizophrenia, may also be linked to general cognitive ability.
“A robust body of evidence suggests that cognitive abilities, particularly intelligence, are significantly influenced by genetic factors,” said lead author Katherine Burdick.
“Existing data already suggests that dysbindin may influence cognition.
“We looked at several DNA sequence variations within the dysbindin gene and found one of them to be significantly associated with lower general cognitive ability in carriers of the risk variant compared with non-carriers in two independent groups.”
Scientists speculate that dysbindin plays a role in communication between brain cells in these regions and helps promote their survival.
An alteration in the genetic blueprint for dysbindin may ultimately interfere with cell communication and fail to protect brain cells from dying, with a resulting negative impact on cognition and intelligence.
The article notes that there are “multiple genetic and environmental influences on intelligence”, this genetic variant being only one piece of the puzzle.