Evidence Based This post has 12 references

SCN2A Gene: Is Intelligence Genetic?

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD (Molecular Genetics) | Last updated:

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This SNP has a very significant impact on intelligence. It’s rare that a single SNP can explain 2-5% of the variance in general intelligence, given that biology is a large symphony of genes, epigenetics, microbiomes, etc… The good news is that there are hacks around this SNP.

nihms746124f1 (1)
3 Different Cohorts

Simple Summary

The SCN2A gene encodes a protein (the α2 subunit of voltage-gated type II sodium channels) that helps neuronal firing throughout the brain [1].

If this gene is more active, it results in more firing between important brain regions involved in higher cognitive function. This results in better informational processing [1].

The brain regions involved are key regions supporting a broad range of cognitive processes including attention, working memory, conflict detection, and behavioral control [2].
Mutations in SCN2A is implicated in disorders such as autism and schizophrenia [3].

Advanced Summary

The SCN2A gene encodes the α2 subunit of voltage-gated type II sodium channels, which contribute to the generation and propagation of action potentials throughout the brain [1].
The α2 subunit encoded by SCN2A (Nav1.2) specifically mediates the conformational change of sodium channels based on voltage differences across cell membranes [4].

Studies in mice [5] and humans [6] have linked mutations in SCN2A with abnormal electrical activity in the form of epileptic seizures [7].

Furthermore, antiepileptic drugs that inhibit Nav1.2 activity (e.g., topiramate) are associated with a diminished intellectual function.

Mutations in SCN2A is implicated in disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, where impaired cognitive performance is often observed [3].

This gene increases the capacity for information processing between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which support higher cognitive functions [1].

This gene may contribute to the development of cortical and hippocampal circuits [8].

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex are key nodes supporting a broad range of cognitive processes including attention, working memory, conflict detection, and behavioral control [1].

The voltage-gated type II sodium channels process sensory inputs, including visual processing and/or disorders characterized by visual deficits [1].

This is thought to be mediated by the communication between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the middle occipital gyrus [1].


SelfDecode has a few SNPs in the SCN2A gene:

  1. RS10174400 (SCN2A) CT
  2. RS10184275 (SCN2A) AA
  3. RS2119067 (SCN2A) TT
  4. RS2304016 (SCN2A) AG

You need to sign up to SelfDecode to see your SNPs.

The Basic Fix

If you have the SCN2A gene, that results in lower intelligence and you need to take a GSK3 beta inhibitor.

GSK3 inhibitors significantly increase the current of voltage-gated sodium (Na(v)) channels [9], which is lower in certain variations of the gene [1].

See my list of GSK3 beta inhibitors.

Sigma-1 receptor activators directly Inhibit NaV1.2/1.4 Channels [10].

Pregnenolone and DHEA are such activators, while progesterone is a blocker of this receptor [11]. This means you should be careful about pregnenolone and DHEA supplements, but you should explore Progesterone. On the other hand, Pregnenolone readily converts to progesterone.

Not advised: Beryllium (potent) [12], Mercury (potent) [12], Tungstate [12].

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

As a kid, Joe suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, mood and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers. Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO and founder of SelfDecode. His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.


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