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The genetic architecture of pediatric cognitive abilities in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort



The objective of this analysis was to examine the genetic architecture of diverse cognitive abilities in children and adolescents, including the magnitude of common genetic effects and patterns of shared and unique genetic influences. Subjects included 3689 members of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a general population sample comprising those aged 8–21 years who completed an extensive battery of cognitive tests. We used genome-wide complex trait analysis to estimate the SNP-based heritability of each domain, as well as the genetic correlation between all domains that showed significant genetic influence. Several of the individual domains suggested strong influence of common genetic variants (for example, reading ability, h2g=0.43, P=4e−06; emotion identification, h2g=0.36, P=1e−05; verbal memory, h2g=0.24, P=0.005). The genetic correlations highlighted trait domains that are candidates for joint interrogation in future genetic studies (for example, language reasoning and spatial reasoning, r(g)=0.72, P=0.007). These results can be used to structure future genetic and neuropsychiatric investigations of diverse cognitive abilities.

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We greatly appreciate the efforts of the participants and families involved in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. The PNC was supported by NIH RC2 grants MH089983 and MH089924. EBR was funded by grant 1K01MH099286-01A1 from the National Institutes of Mental Health.

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Correspondence to E B Robinson.

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Robinson, E., Kirby, A., Ruparel, K. et al. The genetic architecture of pediatric cognitive abilities in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. Mol Psychiatry 20, 454–458 (2015).

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