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Feeling smart? It could be down to your DNA

Feeling smart? It could be down to your DNA

DNA tests can predict intelligence, say researchers. All that is needed is a swab of saliva or a drop of blood to predict a person’s IQ.

In a new study, which is the largest to ever investigate the genetic basis for intelligence, researchers have discovered hundreds of genes linked to brain power. Previous studies have suggested that between 50–75% of intelligence is inherited; the rest is thought to come from education and interaction with family and friends.

Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Edinburgh have now studied the genetic data from more than 240,000 people and discovered 538 genes that are linked to intelligence. Based on this research, the scientists were able to predict intelligence simply based on a person’s DNA. Such a breakthrough could potentially help with the diagnoses of impaired cognitive ability, or tailor education programs.

“Our study identified a large number of genes linked to intelligence. We were also able to predict intelligence in another group using only their DNA”, said Dr David Hill from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE).

In addition, the study – published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry – showed that the genes which influence intelligence are also linked to other biological processes such as length of life; and suggests that intelligent people are biologically fitter. Up till now, it was assumed that intelligent people live longer due to a link with higher social issues (better education, higher-paid jobs, better standard of living, healthier lives, etc).

“This study adds to what we know about which genes influence intelligence, and suggests that health and intelligence are related in part because some of the same genes influence them.”