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Discovery of a thousand unknown genes believed to be involved in intelligence

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Researchers have just identified 1016 specific genes associated with intelligence, the vast majority of which were unknown to science. This discovery greatly expands our understanding of the genetic basis of cognitive function. It brings the infinite debate between innate and acquired intelligence back into focus.
 
Dnder the direction of geneticist Danielle Posthuma of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, researchers conducted a massive genome-wide association study (GWAS) of nearly 270,000 people from 14 independent cohorts of European descent. The results of these studies provide some of the first "real-world" evidence of the effects of the GWAS. tangible evidence of the many genes and pathways "who work together in complex ways to build intelligent brains and keep them in balance. That's what ScienceThe research team was led by geneticist Peter Visscher of the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, whose judgment is objective since he was not part of the research team.
This work is also one of the first to identify specific cell types and genetic pathways related to intelligence and mental health, potentially opening up new ways to improve education or therapies to treat neurotic behaviour.
The results of the first and second study are published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics.
 
Researchers have long known that we often inherit intelligence and certain personality disorders from our parents. Of course, environmental factors such as education and stress also profoundly shape intelligence and mental health. But until now, geneticists have struggled to identify more than a handful of genes associated with intelligence. Last year, researchers used new statistical methods that detect strong associations between genes and specific traits to analyze health and genetic records in huge data sets. This led to the discovery of 52 intelligence-related genes in 80,000 people.
 
Today, the same team has added nearly 1,000 genes to that list. Researchers from Danielle Posthuma's team searched 14 health and genetic databases to identify 939 new genes associated with intelligence in 250,000 individuals. These datasets measured intelligence with scores on aptitude tests such as math, synonym searching and logic. Many variants of genes associated with higher intelligence appeared in people who lived longer and did not have Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or schizophrenia, reports the team in Nature Genetics...suggesting that intelligence protects against these disorders. On the other hand, genes associated with intelligence are correlated with a higher risk of autism.
 
So being smart would be a double-edged sword. Intelligent people seem to live longer, but many of the genes behind intelligence can also lead to autism, anxiety and depression.
In a separate study also published today in Nature Genetics, Posthuma and colleagues identified 500 genes associated with neurotic traits, such as anxiety and depression, by searching the health and genetic records of 449,400 individuals in large databases such as the UK Biobank, a repository of information on the genetics, health and well-being of 500,000 UK volunteers, and 23andMe, a personal genomics company in Mountain View, California, with genetic and health data on 5 million clients. They also found that people with anxiety inherited different genes from those who were more likely to be depressed, suggesting that there are different underlying genetic pathways for these conditions.
 
In both studies, the researchers used a new statistical method called MAGMA to rapidly search for genetic data to identify specific types of cells and tissues where genes were expressed. Many of the intelligence genes were expressed in the "genes for intelligence". medium spiny neurons - Middle spiny neurons" which are part of the basal ganglia, a cluster of neurons deep in the brain, and are known to be involved in learning, cognition and emotion.
 
Our results indicate an overlap of genetic processes involved in both cognitive functioning and neurological and psychiatric traits and provide suggestive evidence of the causal associations that may lead to these correlations. ' John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis for the cybersecurity company FireEye, write researchers. « These findings are important for understanding the biological basis of cognitive functioning and contribute to the understanding of related neurological and psychiatric disorders. "they add.
 
 
To go further: 
 
- Book " Le génie des gènes " by Laurianne Geffroy, Pierre Tambourin with the collaboration of Jedan-François Prud'homme - Preface by Hervé Chneiweiss - Cherche-midi Edition, November 2017

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