Genome-wide association study of school grades identifies genetic overlap between language ability, psychopathology and creativity

Veera M Rajagopal*, Andrea Ganna, Jonathan R I Coleman, Andrea Allegrini, Georgios Voloudakis, Jakob Grove, Thomas D Als, Henriette T Horsdal, Liselotte Petersen, Vivek Appadurai, Andrew Schork, Alfonso Buil, Cynthia M Bulik, Jonas Bybjerg-Grauholm, Marie Bækvad-Hansen, David M Hougaard, Ole Mors, Merete Nordentoft, Thomas Werge, iPSYCH-Broad ConsortiumPreben Bo Mortensen, Gerome Breen, Panos Roussos, Robert Plomin, Esben Agerbo, Anders D Børglum, Ditte Demontis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Cognitive functions of individuals with psychiatric disorders differ from that of the general population. Such cognitive differences often manifest early in life as differential school performance and have a strong genetic basis. Here we measured genetic predictors of school performance in 30,982 individuals in English, Danish and mathematics via a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and studied their relationship with risk for six major psychiatric disorders. When decomposing the school performance into math and language-specific performances, we observed phenotypically and genetically a strong negative correlation between math performance and risk for most psychiatric disorders. But language performance correlated positively with risk for certain disorders, especially schizophrenia, which we replicate in an independent sample (n = 4547). We also found that the genetic variants relating to increased risk for schizophrenia and better language performance are overrepresented in individuals involved in creative professions (n = 2953) compared to the general population (n = 164,622). The findings together suggest that language ability, creativity and psychopathology might stem from overlapping genetic roots.

Original languageEnglish
Article number429
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Cognition
  • Creativity
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Mental Disorders/epidemiology


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