Where does intelligence come from?


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intelligence_testing.jpeg
I was having trouble coming up with a topic for this week's blog and so I was browsing the New York Times online science section and I ended up with an article entitled "If Intelligence Is the Norm, Stupidity Gets More Interesting" by David Dobbs.
The big question addressed in this article is "Where does intelligence come from?". My first reaction was that intelligence comes from our parents because it is hereditary. So what genes determine intelligence? The ability to look at the human genome has given scientists and researchers the ability look at specific genes and their variants to see what affect they have on certain human traits.

According to this article,studies have been done to find which gene variants affect intelligence but have only resulted in the findings of two gene variants that affect a person's I.Q. One deals with a person's probability to have Alzheimers which leads to a lower I.Q. later in life and the other is linked to the development of a bigger brain which leads to a little more than a one point increase in I.Q.

In another study done by Christopher Chabris, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Union College in New York, outlined by this article only found a link between one gene out of the twelve that were tested, to intelligence. According to the article, it had a very small effect on I.Q.

Researchers have concluded that there are hundreds of gene variants account for about half of the differences in I.Q. in different people. However the specific variants have not been identified so the studies have been largely inconclusive.

The NY Times article then proceeds to outline another viewpoint on the issue in citing Kevin Mitchell, a neurologist at Trinity College in Dublin. According to Mitchell researchers should not be looking for gene variants that augment intelligence but those that hinder it.

It is believed that the variants of genes are what cause differences in intelligence because each person inherits a different number of mutations in their genes. It is likely the mutations that cause changes to the development of the brain and the changes are likely responsible for slowing the brain down. This could be a possible explanation for why intelligence varies from person to person however nothing is sure.

If and when scientists do find which genes affect intelligence what could this mean for future generations? If people are able to pick their babies genes like I talked about in my last post will all people of the future be super intelligent?

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Which hypothesis do you think has the most validity when it comes to why people are intelligent? Do you have a different idea that was not supported or found in any of your articles that you can deduce from your research? What do you think the outcome of this kind of knowledge will present in the future?

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