A gene variation that helps us live longer has now been shown to improve thinking, learning and memory.
The gene is a variant of KLOTHO, or KL, which is known to help people live longer and reduce the risk of stroke.
But if that isn't awesome enough, now researchers have found this particular variant, KL-VS, also improves mental capability across a range of tests, regardless of age and sex.
The effect is so pronounced, The Economist reports, that it could increase IQ by an equivalent of six points.
This exact boost hasn't been confirmed as yet because the 220 volunteers weren't actually taking IQ tests, but if it's confirmed, The Economist estimates the KL-VS gene could account for around 3% of the IQ variation in the population.
The scientists also took their study a step further and increased the levels of KL-VS in mice to see what would happen. Amazingly, it actually made them smarter, and the researchers believe this could be because it strengthens nerve connections in the brain via the klotho protein.
This research could not only help improve our memory and cognitive ability, but could also help treat people suffering from Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative conditions.
“If we could boost the brain’s ability to function, we may be able to counter dementias," Dena Dubal, the lead author from the University of California San Fransisco, said in a press release.
The results were published in Cell Reports and have big implications for countries with ageing populations - the number of dementia cases worldwide is estimated to double every 20 years and hit 115.4 million in 2050.
Courtesy: Science Alert