Genetics and High Cognitive Ability

  1. Gregory R. Bock Organizer and
  2. Kate Ackrill
  1. Robert Plomin1 and
  2. Lee Ann Thompson2

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470514498.ch5

Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability

Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability

How to Cite

Plomin, R. and Thompson, L. A. (2007) Genetics and High Cognitive Ability, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability (eds G. R. Bock and K. Ackrill), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470514498.ch5

Author Information

  1. 1

    Center for Developmental and Health Genetics, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA

  2. 2

    Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471939450

Online ISBN: 9780470514498

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Keywords:

  • genetics;
  • high cognitive ability;
  • extreme groups;
  • individual differences;
  • heritability

Summary

More is known aboul the genetics of general cognitive ability (g) than any other trait in psychology. Recent findings on the genetics of g include the following three examples: (1) heritability increases throughout the lifespan; (2) heritabilities of performance in cognitive tests are strongly correlated with the tests' loadings on a g factor; and (3) genetic effects on scholastic achievement largely overlap with genetic effects on cognitive ability. This body of genetic research addresses the aetiology of individual differences in the normal range. Much less is known about the genetics of the high end of the distribution. Finding heritability in the normal range of cognitive ability does not imply that high ability is also genetic in origin. However, the first twin study of high IQ children, which uses a new technique that analyses the average difference between extreme groups and the rest of the population, suggests that high IQ is as heritable as individual differences in the normal range. We are currently engaged in a molecular genetic study that attempts to identify specific genes that contribute to high ability.