DALLAS — Scientists in North Carolina say they have identified a gene that affects IQ, a finding that, if confirmed, would be a significant step toward understanding the genetic basis for intelligence.
The new research also could have ethical implications because the effect of the gene appears to be quite dramatic: The scientists say males who inherit a particular version of the gene have, on average, an IQ 20 points lower than males who don’t.
“I have to admit, the ramifications of it are great,” said Randy Jirtle, the Duke University biologist who led the new research, noting that current genetic testing techniques can easily determine which males have the gene version and which ones do not.
Jirtle predicts that about 25 percent of Caucasians carry the variant gene. An international database that catalogs genetic variation states that the variant gene was found in 28 percent of Japanese living in Tokyo and 24 percent of Han Chinese living in Beijing. The variant gene was not found in a population of Yoruba people living in Ibadan, Nigeria.