Genetic mediation of the correlation between peripheral nerve conduction velocity and IQ

Behav Genet. 1997 Mar;27(2):87-98. doi: 10.1023/a:1025600423013.


Variation in peripheral nerve conduction velocity (PNCV) and intelligence was studied in 18-year-old Dutch twins. It has been suggested that both brain nerve conduction velocity and PNCV are positively correlated with intelligence (Reed, 1984) and that heritable differences in nerve conduction velocity may explain part of the well-established heritability of intelligence. The relationship among IQ, obtained with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, and median nerve PNCV was examined in 159 twin pairs. Genetic analyses showed a heritability of 81% for IQ and 66% for onset PNCV. The small but significant phenotypic correlation between IQ and onset PNCV (.15) was entirely mediated by common genetic factors. Analyses of differences scores for PNCV of this study and PNCV from the same subjects collected at age 16 suggest that there might still be development in PNCV in this age interval. This maturation is highly controlled by genetic factors. It is suggested that variation in IQ that is associated with nerve conduction velocity becomes apparent only after the developmental processes in peripheral nerves are completed. This is in line with the suggestion of increasing heritability of IQ in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / genetics*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Netherlands
  • Neural Conduction / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Reaction Time / genetics
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics