Genes linked to human intelligence discovered

By @Guneet_B on
Deep Brain Surgery
During deep brain stimulation, doctors drill a small hole in the skull to thread electrodes into the brain. PHOTOGRAPH BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNELS

An international team of scientists claim to have identified a cluster of genes in the brain that are believed to be linked to human intelligence.

The gene clusters, dubbed M1 and M2, consist of a network of hundreds of genes each. According to the researchers, these cluster influences multiple cognitive functions in humans, including reasoning, memory, processing speed and attention.

The researchers further believe that these clusters of genes are controlled by a master switch that ultimately have a say on how these gene clusters are going to function. The research team now plans to locate these master switches, which could ultimately be used to boost cognitive function and intelligence in humans.

"We know that genetics play a major role in intelligence, but until now haven't known which genes are relevant. This research highlights some of genes involved in human intelligence, and how they interact with each other,” said lead author of the study, Dr Michael Johnson of the Imperial College London, in a press statement.

Working around the identified genes and using them for modifying human intelligence is still a theoretical possibility, but the researchers are hopeful that they have taken the first step in the right direction.

During the study, the researchers looked at the brain samples of the patients who had undergone a neurosurgery for epilepsy. The researchers specifically looked at the genes expressed in such patients and compared them with genetic information derived from healthy individuals and those suffering from other neurological disorders, including intellectual disability and autism.

Computational analysis and comparison enabled the researchers to identify the genes that impact cognitive ability in a healthy individual. The team found that some of the genes that impacted human intelligence were also the ones that caused cognitive impairment and epilepsy when mutated.

The complete details of the study have been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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