Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) have identified a gene mutation that is linked with thinking skills.
The discovery can unravel the secret behind brain aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's. The team analyzed data from more than 30,000 people who were 45 years or older from 12 different countries. In addition, they examined genetic variations across 2.5 million sites along each individual's DNA.
Of the different cognitive skills examined, the strongest genetic association was related to performance on a test of information processing speed. The most associated variants were located in the CADM2 gene, also known as Syncam2.
"Through this genetic analysis, we have identified a genetic variant which partly explains the differences in information processing speed between people," said Dr. Carla Ibrahim-Verbaas from Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and lead author on the study. It confirms the likely role of CADM2 in between cell communication and cognitive performance.
It is of interest that the gene has also been suggested in other studies to be involved in autism and personality traits, noted Dr. Ibrahim-Verbaas in the paper published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry
"It is well known that genetic variation plays an important role in explaining individual differences in thinking skills such as memory and information processing speed," said senior researcher Dr Tom Mosley from UMMC.
"Our team has identified a genetic mutation that may help unravel this puzzle," he said.