Discovering new genes behind human intelligence and mental health

Recent studies using “a new statistical method called MAGMA” to analyze the health and genetic records of over 6 million people have identified over 1,000 new genes linked to human intelligence and over 500 new genes “associated with neurotic traits.”

The analysis suggests that higher intelligence is linked with a longer life span and less chance of suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, ADHD, or schizophrenia.  In contrast, genes linked to intelligence are also “correlated with a higher risk for autism.”

These studies provide “hard evidence of the many genes and pathways” that are involved in human intelligence and mental health.  For instance, another indication is that people who suffer from excessive anxiety inherit different genes than people who are depressed.

While it has long been known that humans can “inherit intelligence and some personality disorders from their parents,” these studies provide confirmation.  However, environmental factors like education and stress also play a significant role.

The results of these studies can potentially point the way toward “new ways to improve education, or therapies to treat neurotic behavior.”

Read the article (Ann Gibbons, Science, June 25, 2018).

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