A General Cognitive Ability Factor for the UK Biobank

Behav Genet. 2023 Mar;53(2):85-100. doi: 10.1007/s10519-022-10127-6. Epub 2022 Nov 15.


UK Biobank participants do not have a high-quality measure of intelligence or polygenic scores (PGSs) of intelligence to simultaneously examine the genetic and neural underpinnings of intelligence. We created a standardized measure of general intelligence (g factor) relative to the UK population and estimated its quality. After running a GWAS of g on UK Biobank participants with a g factor of good quality and without neuroimaging data (N = 187,288), we derived a g PGS for UK Biobank participants with neuroimaging data. For individuals with at least one cognitive test, the g factor from eight cognitive tests (N = 501,650) explained 29% of the variance in cognitive test performance. The PGS for British individuals with neuroimaging data (N = 27,174) explained 7.6% of the variance in g. We provided high-quality g factor estimates for most UK Biobank participants and g factor PGSs for UK Biobank participants with neuroimaging data.

Keywords: Factor analyses; GWAS; Intelligence; Polygenic scores; UK Biobank.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / genetics
  • Multifactorial Inheritance
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology