DNA markers associated with high versus low IQ: The IQ quantitative trait loci (QTL) project

Robert Plomin, Gerald E. McClearn, Deborah L. Smith, Sylvia Vignetti, Michael J. Chorney, Karen Chorney, Charles P. Venditti, Steven Kasarda, Lee A. Thompson, Douglas K. Detterman, Johanna Daniels, Michael Owen, Peter McGuffin

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General cognitive ability (intelligence, often indexed by IQ scores) is one of the most highly heritable behavioral dimensions. In an attempt to identify some of the many genes (quantitative trait loci; QTL) responsible for the substantial heritability of this quantitative trait, the IQ QTL Project uses an allelic association strategy. Allelic frequencies are compared for the high and low extremes of the IQ dimension using DNA markers in or near genes that are likely to be relevant to neural functioning. Permanent cell lines have been established for low-IQ (mean IQ=82;N=18), middle-IQ (mean IQ=105;N=21), and high-IQ (mean IQ=130;N=24) groups and for a replication sample consisting of even more extreme low-IQ (mean IQ=59;N=17) and high-IQ (mean IQ=142;N=27) groups. Subjects are Caucasian children tested from 6 to 12 years of age. This first report of the IQ QTL Project presents allelic association results for 46 two-allele markers and for 26 comparisons for 14 multiple-allele markers. Two markers yielded significant (p<.01) allelic frequency differences between the high- and the low-IQ groups in the combined sample-a new HLA marker for a gene unique to the human species and a new brain-expressed triplet repeat marker (CTGB33). The prospects for harnessing the power of molecular genetic techniques to identify QTL for quantitative dimensions of human behavior are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-118
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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