Researchers Identify New Genes Associated with Cognitive Ability

Medical XPress, November 28, 2017

Investigators at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research discovered dozens of new genetic variations associated with a person’s general cognitive ability. The findings, which were published online today in Cell Reports, have the potential to help researchers develop more targeted treatment for cognitive and memory disorders.

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In the largest peer-reviewed study of its kind, an international team of 65 scientists, led by Dr. [Todd] Lencz, studied the genomes of more than 100,000 individuals who had their brain function measured by neuropsychological tests. These data were then combined with genomes from 300,000 people measured for the highest level of education achieved, which serves as an estimate for cognitive ability, or how the brain acquires knowledge.

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This study appears less than a year after Dr. Lencz and his colleagues published a similar, smaller study that was only able to identify a few key genes associated with cognitive ability.

“The field of genomics is growing by leaps and bounds,” Dr. Lencz said. “Because the number of genes we can discover is a direct function of the sample size available, further research with additional samples is likely to provide even more insight into how our genes play a role in cognitive ability.”

[Editor’s Note: The full study is available online here.]

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