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Biotech Science

Single Gene Can Boost IQ By Six Points 199

Posted by timothy
from the pair-of-jeans-can-lower-them-at-least-20 dept.
ananyo (2519492) writes "People are living longer, which is good. But old age often brings a decline in mental faculties and many researchers are looking for ways to slow or halt such decline. One group doing so is led by Dena Dubal of the University of California, San Francisco, and Lennart Mucke of the Gladstone Institutes, also in San Francisco. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke have been studying the role in aging of klotho, a protein encoded by a gene called KL. A particular version of this gene, KL-VS, promotes longevity. One way it does so is by reducing age-related heart disease. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke wondered if it might have similar powers over age-related cognitive decline. What they found was startling. KL-VS did not curb decline, but it did boost cognitive faculties regardless of a person's age by the equivalent of about six IQ points. If this result, just published in Cell Reports, is confirmed, KL-VS will be the most important genetic agent of non-pathological variation in intelligence yet discovered."
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Single Gene Can Boost IQ By Six Points

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  • First post! (Score:2, Funny)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867)

    Guess I got that gene!

  • "boost"??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @01:58PM (#46951383) Journal
    How does something that's genetic "boost" anything? This is a gene, not a drug.
  • Isn't the standard deviation of IQ 7 points? Is 6 points actually statistically significant?

    • by hutsell (1228828)

      Isn't the standard deviation of IQ 7 points? Is 6 points actually statistically significant?

      Additionally, a lot of people have mistakenly embraced these "IQ" tests to calculate a physical property in thinking the way a scale measures one's weight.. They're only a study indicating a comparative awareness of others within the same environment -- something the French social scientist that created it originally stressed when Americans were redefining its use.

      • Yes, but this shouldn't be an issue in this research, since they are comparing apples with apples, at least from my understanding.
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @02:34PM (#46951841)

        According to various IQ tests, I'm smarter than Einstein.

        IQ tests are bullshit. Mostly because you can easily train them and gain 20-30 "points" fairly easily. Especially if you start out fairly "intelligent" already (read: share the way of thinking and the train of logic of those that design these tests) because once you play in the 150+ league, what matters is concentration and speed. Finding the logical pattern quickly and then being able to track various variables at the same time is usually the key.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          If you were smarter then Einstein then you would have figured out the he never took an IQ test.

      • They're only a study indicating a comparative awareness of others within the same environment -- something the French social scientist that created it originally stressed when Americans were redefining its use.

        If you can prove this, you will be a rich person.

        IQ has been studied intensively for decades. And the result is... nobody really knows.

        They know they're measuring something, because it is measurable, and it is fairly consistent for a given individual.

        But exactly what it is, few people with any sense claim to know at this time. The likelihood is that it is a combination of factors.

    • by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @02:20PM (#46951673) Homepage
      The standard deviation is 15. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. As for the statistical significance, not sure. IANAS, so I am not sure which formulas to best use to model it. According to TFA, their sample size is 718, of which 1/5 possess the gene, so intuitively I'd say that 6 points do seem significant.
      • That is my intuition anyway: if the SD of a single IQ measurement is 15, then the SD of the measurement on the population that possess the gene is 15/sqrt(718*1/5)=1.25. The SD of the measurement on the population without the gene is 15/sqrt(718*4/5)=0.63. The SD of the difference should be 1.25+0.62=1.88. So yes, 6 points is over 3-sigma. IANAS and I could be saying complete nonsense.
      • by mark-t (151149)
        Anything within a single standard deviation is rarely considered statistically significant unless the distribution is extremely flat.
        • by binarstu (720435)

          Anything within a single standard deviation is rarely considered statistically significant unless the distribution is extremely flat.

          That is nonsense. For basic statistical tests (e.g., t-tests), statistical significance depends on the sampling distribution of the statistic, which is a function of both sample size and the source population distribution. For example, a difference in means that is less than the standard deviations of the source populations can easily be statistically significant if the sample sizes are large enough. If you don't believe me, I suggest you try running some simple numeric simulations for normally-distribut

        • Nope. Sample size can correct for that. A large enough test group can find differences within your standard deviation.

  • I work with people across the entire working-age spectrum who are blithering idiots so I don't think it's just age which reduces ones mental acuity.

    Maybe this process can help them as well. Let's start with programmers followed by the executive staff for starters.

    • by WillKemp (1338605)

      It's likely that age itself doesn't reduce mental acuity at all. It seems the tests that purport to show age related decline in cognition have been wrongly interpreted. http://www.newscientist.com/ar... [newscientist.com] (paywalled, but the first couple of paragraphs are available for free.)

  • by OglinTatas (710589) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @02:10PM (#46951549)

    Dial back the cologne a little.
    Look women in the eye.
    Learn to dance with confidence, even if it is only the white guy shuffle.

    Sure some women dig a smart dude, but if that 6 points is a significant improvement for you maybe the women aren't into you for your brains.
    Buy a pump.

  • SNP#? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSync (5291) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @02:14PM (#46951605) Journal

    Am I understanding properly that the "KL-VS" variant of KLOTHO is Rs9536314 [snpedia.com] with genotype "T;T"?

    • by TheSync (5291)

      More data: Haplotype "KL-VS" refers to the V and S alleles of the SNPs respectively. It contains six sequence variants in complete linkage disequilibrium, two of which result in amino acid substitutions F352V [expasy.org] (rs9536314 [nih.gov]) and C370S [expasy.org] (rs9527025 [nih.gov], not on 23andme btw). It is present in 15% of Caucasians.

  • I am more interested in the testing of the hypothetical drug that duplicates the result of having the smart gene.

    Note, I personally would hypothesize that such a drug would NOT work in adults, but instead would have to be given to children, something we are much less likely to agree to do. Mainly because I think intelligence has more to do with how your neurons are organized rather than what chemicals are in your blood.

  • Combine this with infusions of blood from your grandchildren [ajc.com] and you'll be good to go.

  • I'm already alive. How about something to curry favour with Lachesis or Atropos?
  • If all this gene achieved was less cardiovascular diseases and higher intelligence, we would (nearly) all have it by now due to selection. So the question is, what else does it do which counterweights this?

    • by coinreturn (617535) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @02:47PM (#46952039)

      If all this gene achieved was less cardiovascular diseases and higher intelligence, we would (nearly) all have it by now due to selection. So the question is, what else does it do which counterweights this?

      Not really. Cardiovascular disease generally kills long after the age of reproduction. The number of people who would have been born if not for parental death by cardiovascular disease is likely pretty small. Also, those with higher intelligence tend to reproduce less.

      • by Thomasje (709120)

        Also, those with higher intelligence tend to reproduce less.

        That may be true today, but it clearly wasn't always (or mankind would be getting steadily dumber, and there is ample evidence to the contrary), and this is most likely a temporary situation. Right now, only the better-educated classes grasp just how tight the situation with the world's water, food, and energy resources has become, and they adjust their reproductive behavior accordingly, while the more ignorant parts of our species continue to pass on their increasingly unwarranted optimism to their many ch

      • Also, those with higher intelligence tend to reproduce less.

        Only in the rich world of today where we confound intelligence with university educations, thereby delaying children during a span of high fertility. That is surely a recent trend. Intelligence correlates with general health, especially in a more rough and tumble world of uncertain nutrition. Above average intelligence is a wonderful positive indicator for mate selection.

        • Also, those with higher intelligence tend to reproduce less.

          Only in the rich world of today where we confound intelligence with university educations, thereby delaying children during a span of high fertility. That is surely a recent trend. Intelligence correlates with general health, especially in a more rough and tumble world of uncertain nutrition. Above average intelligence is a wonderful positive indicator for mate selection.

          Rate selection and number of offspring is not the same thing.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      It could be that in some societies a larger number of elderly is a drain on resources. So relatively early death (after the kids are grown) is a good thing. It would certainly help the US Social Security system.
  • by xevioso (598654)

    Soooooo....are there any foods that have this protein?

  • If this result, just published in Cell Reports, is confirmed, KL-VS will be the most important genetic agent of non-pathological variation in intelligence yet discovered.

    IQ != intelligence. If you want to study variations in IQ score, fine. Not saying it can't yeild interesting results. But can we please stop pretending that there is anything approaching a useful scientific definition of intelligence, nevermind one that reduces to a single number. That ways lies the kind of idiocy that will end up with people fucking up their kids genetic structure trying to engineer "intelligence" without even understanding what that is.

  • But it might be just as dangerous as the other kind.

  • ... United Nations health officials have organized an emergency relief effort to deliver IQ enhancing genes to Slashdot editorial staff.

  • If a person who scores 100 in IQ test today, takes the one administered in 1950s, he/she would score 130. If today's test had been given to someone who scored 100 in 1930s, he/she would have scored 50 or 60. This is known as Flynn effect [wikipedia.org].

    Even if this allele was sweeping through the population for the last one hundred years, working its way to get "fixed", it would only explain a tiny fraction of the Flynn effect. What it really tells us something simple. It is exceedingly hard to come up with new original

    • Your numbers are saying the person of average intillegence in 1930 would be in the bottom one or two percent today. While there have been increases in IQ, they have not been anywhere near that extreme. One or two points per decade, and the rate has been slowing for the past 30 years. Still significant, but nothing like what you are describing.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      That's easy: nutrition. It's known that both intelligence and height are heritable. We also know that nutrition in childhood is also a factor for height (and most likely intelligence, as well). If you look at the average height of, say, Japanese people over the 20th century, you'll find that their height increased (on average) by several inches. Was this due to genetics? Or was this due to better nutrition (more specifically, more protein in their diet)? The fact that the Flynn effect happened (probab
  • Or, specifically, which ethnic groups are mostly likely to have it or not?

    I can imagine the researchers refusing to study that aspect of it because of the potential 'justifying racism' accusations.

    I would laugh at all the white supremacists if it ended up being exclusive to blacks tho.

    (My personal opinion is that any so called 'pure' race is just a lesser form of inbreeding. Believing in 'miscegenation' is just a couple steps away from having sex with your own sister.)

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @05:38PM (#46953937)

    Is the headline "Single Gene Can Boost IQ By Six Points" a self parody? It should be "Single Allele Can Boost IQ By Six Points". The thing I love about irony is that it knows no bounds - there's an endless supply of it.

  • Just ask my employees, who are getting smarter every day!

  • I'm gonna need some of this gene after reading the articles on alien encounters and noncomputable consciousness. Me dumber now.

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