In “‘Smart genes’ prove elusive,” Nature‘s Ewen Callaway writes that “scientists looking for the genes underlying intelligence are in for a slog. One of the largest, most rigorous genetic studies of human cognition1 has turned up inconclusive findings, and experts concede that they will probably need to scour the genomes of more than 1 million people to confidently identify even a small genetic influence on intelligence and other behavioural traits.”
The paper, published in PNAS, is open-access and can be found here: “Common genetic variants associated with cognitive performance identified using the proxy-phenotype method.”
Mr. Callaway’s article provides some background for those new to this topic, as does Erika Check Hayden, also in Nature, in a piece from October 2013 titled “Taboo Genetics.” There she provides history as well as links to scientific research on a variety of complex traits such as IQ, race, violence and sexual orientation.
pgEd has some tools for teachers interesting in talking about genetic complexity and linking it to an emerging social and scientific issue in our lesson plan “Genes, Environment and Complex Traits: Aggression in Humans“.