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21st October 2011

Genetic link to intelligence found

Stereotypes of intelligent parents producing intelligent kids might be more true than you think.
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Intelligence doesn’t just originate from hard study and late nights at the library, but in fact ‘a substantial proportion of individual difference in human intelligence is due to genetic variation’, researchers have found. The University of Manchester, in partnership with an international collaboration of research universities, has published findings regarding the origins of intelligence differences between adults.

Social studies have already shown the effect of environmental factors on intelligence, regarding upbringing and education; now this recently published report claims that the foundations of intelligence differences can be discovered in brain structure and function.

Intellectual resemblance between relatives has always suggested high heritability, though earlier studies have proved somewhat inconclusive. Previous research, which studied twins and adopted children, had concluded that apparent high ‘heritability’ for intelligence is actually the confounding between genetic and environmental factors. They claimed that it is difficult to discern whether a child has biologically inherited their intellect from parents, or whether the child has experienced benefit from parental support promoting education. Thus it was claimed that breaking up this pattern would result in data showing that intelligence is much less likely to be inherited.

This recent study chose to use distant relatives, not pedigree but those who live in discrete environments and homes, to break up the aforementioned correlation and therefore conclude whether there was high inheritability concerning intellect as suspected. Through cognitive and psychometric tests, analysing past records and participant’s genes, data was gathered and examined for an elusive link between specific genes and intelligence scores. This study concluded that no specific gene variants were found associated with intelligence. Instead, human intellect was found to be highly polygenic (due to a combination of genes) and that purely genetic information could be used to predict intelligence in the future.


Aryan Safavi

Aryan Safavi

Former Sci and Tech editor 2011-2012.

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