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. 2016 Nov 4;6:36189.
doi: 10.1038/srep36189.

A Sequence Variant Associating With Educational Attainment Also Affects Childhood Cognition

Free PMC article

A Sequence Variant Associating With Educational Attainment Also Affects Childhood Cognition

Bjarni Gunnarsson et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article


Only a few common variants in the sequence of the genome have been shown to impact cognitive traits. Here we demonstrate that polygenic scores of educational attainment predict specific aspects of childhood cognition, as measured with IQ. Recently, three sequence variants were shown to associate with educational attainment, a confluence phenotype of genetic and environmental factors contributing to academic success. We show that one of these variants associating with educational attainment, rs4851266-T, also associates with Verbal IQ in dyslexic children (P = 4.3 × 10-4, β = 0.16 s.d.). The effect of 0.16 s.d. corresponds to 1.4 IQ points for heterozygotes and 2.8 IQ points for homozygotes. We verified this association in independent samples consisting of adults (P = 8.3 × 10-5, β = 0.12 s.d., combined P = 2.2 x 10-7, β = 0.14 s.d.). Childhood cognition is unlikely to be affected by education attained later in life, and the variant explains a greater fraction of the variance in verbal IQ than in educational attainment (0.7% vs 0.12%,. P = 1.0 × 10-5).

Conflict of interest statement

B.G., G.A.J., G.B., P.S., S.K., B.Ke., O.G., H.H., P.I., S.O., M.F., G.Þ., S.A., B.S., U.Th., A.K., D.F.G., H.S., B.V.H. and K.S. are employees of deCODE Genetics/Amgen.


Figure 1
Figure 1
(a) Effects plot for rs4851266-T on WISC IQ phenotypes and educational attainment. Error bars represent 95% CI. (b) Variance explained plot (using replication estimates), red line shows variance explained by the polygenic score of educational attainment for Verbal IQ. Error bars represent 95% CI.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Forest plot for the GWS Verbal IQ marker (rs4851266-T) in all samples, WISC: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, WAIS: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, MWT-B: Mehrfachwahl-Wortschatz-Intelligenztest (Verbal IQ test),WASI: Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence.

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