General cognitive (intelligence) function is substantially heritable, and is a major determinant of economic and health-related life outcomes. Cognitive impairments and intelligence decline are core features of schizophrenia which are evident before the onset of the illness. Genetic overlaps between cognitive impairments and the vulnerability for the illness have been suggested. Here, we review the literature on recent large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of general cognitive function and correlations between cognitive function and genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia. In the last decade, large-scale GWASs (n
> 30,000) of general cognitive function and schizophrenia have demonstrated that substantial proportions of the heritability of the cognitive function and schizophrenia are explained by a polygenic component consisting of many common genetic variants with small effects. To date, GWASs have identified more than 100 loci linked to general cognitive function and 108 loci linked to schizophrenia. These genetic variants are mostly intronic or intergenic. Genes identified around these genetic variants are densely expressed in brain tissues. Schizophrenia-related genetic risks are consistently correlated with lower general cognitive function (rg
= −0.20) and higher educational attainment (rg
= 0.08). Cognitive functions are associated with many of the socioeconomic and health-related outcomes. Current treatment strategies largely fail to improve cognitive impairments of schizophrenia. Therefore, further study is needed to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying both cognition and schizophrenia.
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