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Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 2001 Apr;40:s41-8.

Genetics, environment and cognitive abilities: review and work in progress towards a genome scan for quantitative trait locus associations using DNA pooling.

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  • 1Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK.



Multivariate genetic research indicates that genetic effects on diverse cognitive abilities are general rather than specific or modular. General cognitive ability (g), a key factor in learning and memory, is among the most heritable behavioural traits.


To give a brief overview of quantitative genetic research on g and to describe initial results from a programme of research that aims to identify genes responsible for the substantial heritability of general cognitive ability.


The research uses a new technique called DNA pooling, which combines DNA from individuals within a group and makes it feasible to screen thousands of DNA markers for a systematic scan of the genome for associations between DNA markers and g. Two independent samples of children with very high g scores and two control samples of children with average g scores were compared in a systematic scan of 147 markers on chromosome 4 and 66 markers on chromosome 22.


Three replicated associations on chromosome 4 were identified using DNA pooling and confirmed using individual genotyping.


These first results of the application of DNA pooling in systematic analysis of allelic association are encouraging.

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