Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Schizophrenia Health Center

Font Size

Is Intelligence in the Genes?

Study Shows Gene May Affect Intelligence but Also Affects Schizophrenia
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 3, 2006 -- A gene called dysbindin-1 (DTNBP1) may be tied to intelligence, scientists report in Human Molecular Genetics.

The scientists studied a region of a particular chromosome. That chromosome region is where the DTNBP1 gene is located.

The DTNBP1 gene has previously been associated with schizophrenia, write the researchers. They included Katherine Burdick, PhD, of the psychiatry research department of the Zucker Hillside Hospital, which is part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.

Burdick and colleagues studied 213 unrelated whites with schizophrenia or a related disorder. For comparison, the study also included 126 unrelated healthy whites who didn't have an immediate relative with certain mental disorders.

Testing Intelligence, DNA

Participants took various tests of mental skills including reading, verbal learning, and word association. The researchers also studied participants' DNA, focusing on six different sequences of the DTNBP1 gene.

Here's an easy way to picture those sequences. Think of a bracelet of beads of various colors. One bracelet might have a sequence of three gold beads, a blue bead, and a red bed. Rearranging those beads would create different sequences on the bracelet.

The sequences studied by Burdick's team work the same way. Of course, those sequences are made of genetic building blocks, not colored beads.

One of those six sequences stood out. It was rare in all participants and was linked to lower scores on the mental tests, the researchers report.

Intelligence Goes Beyond Genes

That particular sequence explained about 3% of the variation in test scores in healthy people and about 2% of the variation in test scores in participants with schizophrenia or a related disorder.

In other words, the sequence didn't solely explain why some people scored higher than others on the tests, regardless of schizophrenia.

"While our data suggests the dysbindin gene influences variation in human cognitive ability and intelligence, it only explained a small proportion of it -- about 3%," researcher Anil Malhotra, MD, says in a news release.

"This supports a model involving multiple genetic and environmental influences on intelligence," Malhotra continues. Like Burdick, Malhotra works in the Zucker Hillside Hospital's psychiatry research department and the psychiatry department of Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Other researchers who worked on the study are based in Boston at Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics.

Today on WebMD

Mental Health Psychotic Disorders
Schizophrenia Medications
bored man resting chin on hands
vincent van gogh
Schizophrenia What Increases Your Risk
mother and daughter
boy hiding under blanket
male patient with doctor
romantic couple
businesswoman working at desk at night