Cognitive disorders primarily affect cognitive abilities including learning, memory, perception, and problem solving. Investigators at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research discovered dozens of new genetic variations associated with a person's general cognitive ability.
The findings, which were published online in Cell Reports, have the potential to help researchers develop more targeted treatment for cognitive and memory disorders.
"For the first time, we were able to use genetic information to point us towards specific drugs that might aid in cognitive disorders of the brain, including Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder," said Todd Lencz, PhD, senior author of the study and professor at the Feinstein Institute and the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.
While profiling cognitive ability, researchers also discovered a genetic overlap with longevity. They found when examining an individual's family that a genetic predisposition towards higher cognitive ability was associated with longer lifespan. A new genetic overlap between cognitive ability and risk for autoimmune disease was also identified.
This study appears less than a year after Dr. Lencz and his colleagues published a similar, smaller study that was only able to identify a few key genes associated with cognitive ability.
"The field of genomics is growing by leaps and bounds," Dr. Lencz said. "Because the number of genes we can discover is a direct function of the sample size available, further research with additional samples is likely to provide even more insight into how our genes play a role in cognitive ability."