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Pathfinder: A gamified measure to integrate general cognitive ability into the biological, medical and behavioural sciences

By Margherita Malanchini, Kaili Rimfeld, Agnieszka Gidziela, Rosa Cheesman, Andrea Giuseppe Allegrini, Nicholas Shakeshaft, Kerry Schofield, Amy Packer, Rachel Ogden, Andrew McMillan, Stuart J. Ritchie, Philip S. Dale, Thalia C Eley, Sophie von Stumm, Robert Plomin

Posted 10 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.10.430571

Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have uncovered DNA variants associated with individual differences in general cognitive ability (g), but these are far from capturing heritability estimates obtained from twin studies. A major barrier is measurement heterogeneity. In a series of four studies, we created a 15-minute, online, gamified measure of g that is highly reliable, psychometrically valid and scalable. In a fifth study, we administered this measure to 4,751 young adults from the Twins Early Development Study. This novel g measure, which also yields verbal and nonverbal scores, showed substantial twin heritability (57%) and SNP heritability (37%). A polygenic score computed from GWA studies of five cognitive and educational traits accounted for 12% of the variation in g, the strongest DNA-based prediction of g to date. Widespread use of this engaging new measure will advance research not only in genomics but throughout the biological, medical and behavioural sciences.

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