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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30405. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030405. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Familial linkage between neuropsychiatric disorders and intellectual interests.

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  • 1Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.

Abstract

From personality to neuropsychiatric disorders, individual differences in brain function are known to have a strong heritable component. Here we report that between close relatives, a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders covary strongly with intellectual interests. We surveyed an entire class of high-functioning young adults at an elite university for prospective major, familial incidence of neuropsychiatric disorders, and demographic and attitudinal questions. Students aspiring to technical majors (science/mathematics/engineering) were more likely than other students to report a sibling with an autism spectrum disorder (p = 0.037). Conversely, students interested in the humanities were more likely to report a family member with major depressive disorder (p = 8.8×10(-4)), bipolar disorder (p = 0.027), or substance abuse problems (p = 1.9×10(-6)). A combined PREdisposition for Subject MattEr (PRESUME) score based on these disorders was strongly predictive of subject matter interests (p = 9.6×10(-8)). Our results suggest that shared genetic (and perhaps environmental) factors may both predispose for heritable neuropsychiatric disorders and influence the development of intellectual interests.

PMID:
22291951
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3266915
Free PMC Article
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