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SCN2A Gene: Is Intelligence Genetic?

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

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.

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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

Joe Cohen flipped the script on conventional and alternative medicine…and it worked. Growing up, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, anxiety, and other issues that were poorly understood in traditional healthcare. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a learning journey to decode his DNA and track his biomarkers in search of better health. Through this personalized approach, he discovered his genetic weaknesses and was able to optimize his health 10X better than he ever thought was possible. Based on his own health success, he went on to found SelfDecode, the world’s first direct-to-consumer DNA analyzer & precision health tool that utilizes AI-driven polygenic risk scoring to produce accurate insights and health recommendations. Today, SelfDecode has helped over 100,000 people understand how to get healthier using their DNA and labs.
Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, with a mission of empowering people to take advantage of the precision health revolution and uncover insights from their DNA and biomarkers so that we can all feel great all of the time.


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