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Genomic prediction of cognitive traits in childhood and adolescence

By A.G. Allegrini, S. Selzam, Kaili Rimfeld, S. von Stumm, JB. Pingault, Robert Plomin

Posted 17 Sep 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/418210 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41380-019-0394-4)

Recent advances in genomics are producing powerful DNA predictors of complex traits, especially cognitive abilities. Here, we leveraged summary statistics from the most recent genome-wide association studies of intelligence and educational attainment to build prediction models of general cognitive ability and educational achievement. To this end, we compared the performances of multi-trait genomic and polygenic scoring methods. In a representative UK sample of 7,026 children at age 12 and 16, we show that we can now predict up to 11 percent of the variance in intelligence and 16 percent in educational achievement. We also show that predictive power increases from age 12 to age 16 and that genomic predictions do not differ for girls and boys. Multivariate genomic methods were effective in boosting predictive power and, even though prediction accuracy varied across polygenic scores approaches, results were similar using different multivariate and polygenic score methods. Polygenic scores for educational attainment and intelligence are the most powerful predictors in the behavioural sciences and exceed predictions that can be made from parental phenotypes such as educational attainment and occupational status.

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