In Schizophrenia, Health and Cognitive Function May Share the Same Genes

The biological influences that are responsible for a person's physical health may also regulate their cognitive processes, too, according to a new study.

Specifically, the traits that are linked to disease and thinking abilities share the same genes, report researchers.

The findings, which come from an international team led by University of Edinburgh experts, may help shed light on conditions like schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and autism.

"The research highlights the importance of investigating biological pathways that influence both cognitive function and health-related traits," said co-author Dr. Sarah Harris.

Schizophrenia and health

Schizophrenia patients statistically have poorer health than their peers, including higher rates of substance abuse, smoking and suicidal behavior. According to the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance, 50 percent of people with the condition also never receive treatment, which could exacerbate health conditions that co-exist with schizophrenia or become worse with the development of the disease.

The current study used data from about 100,000 people to determine how thinking is linked to disease.

Besides the shared genetic influences between disease and cognitive function, researchers also found that brain size, body shape and even educational achievments may be linked to the same genes.

"The study supports an existing theory which says that those with better overall health are likely to have higher levels of intelligence," said researcher Saskia Hagenaars.

Source: The University of Edinburgh, SARDAA

Image courtesy of jk1991/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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