It has been known for 115 years that, in humans, diverse cognitive traits are positively intercorrelated; this forms the basis for the general factor of intelligence ( g ). We directly test for a genetic basis for g using data from seven different cognitive tests (N = 11,263 to N = 331,679) and genome-wide autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms. A genetic g factor accounts for 58.4% (SE = 4.8%) of the genetic variance in the cognitive traits, with trait-specific genetic factors accounting for the remaining 41.6%. We distill genetic loci broadly relevant for many cognitive traits ( g ) from loci associated with only individual cognitive traits. These results elucidate the etiological basis for a long-known yet poorly-understood phenomenon, revealing a fundamental dimension of genetic sharing across diverse cognitive traits.
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