A Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Genetic Variants Associated with Mathematics Ability

Huan Chen, Xiao-Hong Gu, Yuxi Zhou, Zeng Ge, Bin Wang, Wai Ting Siok, Guoqing Wang, Michael Huen, Yuyang Jiang, Li-Hai Tan (Corresponding Author), Yimin Sun (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Mathematics ability is a complex cognitive trait with polygenic heritability. Genome-wide association study (GWAS) has been an effective approach to investigate genetic components underlying mathematic ability. Although previous studies reported several candidate genetic variants, none of them exceeded genome-wide significant threshold in general populations. Herein, we performed GWAS in Chinese elementary school students to identify potential genetic variants associated with mathematics ability. The discovery stage included 494 and 504 individuals from two independent cohorts respectively. The replication stage included another cohort of 599 individuals. In total, 28 of 81 candidate SNPs that met validation criteria were further replicated. Combined meta-analysis of three cohorts identified four SNPs (rs1012694, rs11743006, rs17778739 and rs17777541) of SPOCK1 gene showing association with mathematics ability (minimum p value 5.67 × 10-10, maximum β -2.43). The SPOCK1 gene is located on chromosome 5q31.2 and encodes a highly conserved glycoprotein testican-1 which was associated with tumor progression and prognosis as well as neurogenesis. This is the first study to report genome-wide significant association of individual SNPs with mathematics ability in general populations. Our preliminary results further supported the role of SPOCK1 during neurodevelopment. The genetic complexities underlying mathematics ability might contribute to explain the basis of human cognition and intelligence at genetic level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40365
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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