Chance and Your IQ


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Do you ever contemplate the idea that one miniscule event in your life could have changed you forever? Imagine that you'd been just 30 seconds earlier to class that day and sat in a different seat; you could have missed out on sitting next to the person who may one day be your best friend. Perhaps you missed a song on the radio, and you may not have ever heard of what is now your favorite band. The opportunities that we take, as well as those we skip over, have the chance to mold and shape who we are and where our lives take us. Some facets could be due to pure chance, or our background may affect some aspects of who we become. Continuing with the idea discussed in class as to whether or not worms can impact intelligence, I decided to look into what else can have an effect on a person's academic success.

             There are a few obvious factors that play into a person's measured intelligence, such as their upbringing, environment, and role models. It's very easy to see how these could have a huge influence on an individual's academic success. A healthy upbringing in a happy and well-off home will allow a child to focus more on their studies, and positive role models give children something to aspire towards which usually gives them a more powerful drive to do well in school.  According to The Discovery Channel, there are five main factors that influence a person's intelligence. The first is genetics, which they refer to as "nurture." Studies show that genetics can influence anywhere from 40% to 80% of a person's intelligence. It is also connected to the brain structure, as brain pathways with "better" development allow for better IQ scores. The next reason they list is early nutrition. They state that the nutrients received from a mother's diet before a child is born, as well as the nutrients they receive within the first few years of life, can enhance brain structure, as well as enlarge the caudate. The caudate is a region in the brain that involves the way we learn as well as our memory. As previously mentioned, they also list "nurture" as a factor, which is essentially the environment in which a child grows up. Another factor listed is what is referred to as "birth order," meaning that there was once an understanding that the oldest child would be more intelligent than any child born after. While this is neither proven nor disproven, it is often accepted to be true. The final factor they list is environment, which they essentially describe to be the same thing as "nurture." They did not form a clear line between "nurture" and the "environment" or how they may each have a different impact on a child ("Curiosity").

The question that now remains is: what other factors play into a person's intelligence?  Also, what steps could parents take before a child is born to improve their IQ? Nutrition was mentioned, but what specific nutrients benefit the brain and its development in particular?

And, as for experimenting to test these theories, wouldn't be unethical to purposefully deprive an unborn baby or a toddler of the proper nutrients it needs? How did they create a control group?These are just a few of the many questions left unanswered by The Discovery Channel's research.

The fact that something like genetics or prenatal nutrition, both of which are so far out of our control, could influence our intelligence and consequently our whole life is a scary concept. Life truly is a game of chance and coincidence.

  

"Curiosity." Discovery Channel. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013. <http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/5-factors-that-affect-human-intelligence.htm>

4 Comments

This is actually really interesting and I think I can make a contribution to the data you presented. I consider myself to be intelligent (I mean I do go to Penn State)and I believe it has to do with the environment I was raised in. My parents always made it a point to focus hard in school but they never pressured us kids. It made me want to work harder in school, not because they pressured or scared me into being smart, but because I had such a great relationship with them that all I wanted to do was make them proud. I also like the part where you mention that the oldest sibling tends to be the most intelligent. In my family's case, that is the truth. My older brother was in the gifted program at our school since first grade. Neither me or my other brother were offered that opportunity. Not sure if it is just a coincidence or not, but I find it to be interesting based on your blog.

I ALWAYS ponder the idea of life being different with any choice you make throughout the day! So I absolutely love this blog you wrote! I think how healthy and how much exercise parents do can affect a baby during conception and if the mother continues to exercise during pregnancy may play a part in the academic success. This website http://www.positscience.com/brain-resources/everyday-brain-fitness/physical-exercise provides a lot of information to how exercise affects the brain as it can provide "anti-depressant like effects". So the mother exercising may somehow contribute to a child's optimism giving the child a more chance of academic success. My parents were really supportive and encouraging in anything that I was involved in and in return it made me want to work hard, push myself to be the best that I can be and to make them proud as Kaitlin had said. I think it has to do with a little bit of both the morals a person has been taught through family and also I feel that you personally have to make a choice for the betterment of your future. So whether or not your going to that meeting where you initially might meet your future husband or whatever the case maybe, it's an opportunity so why waste it? The future is unexpected so I definitely think people should not miss out on opportunities, except those that are potentially dangerous. My older brother is the smartest out of the three of us, though we all three got Summa Cum Laude of our high school class. So I feel that genetics, the influence of parents, and your will to work hard all play a role to help lead you to academic success.

This post is super interesting! We are discussing the argument of nature vs. nurture and which one truly gives you your personality and abilities in my Psych100 class right now. The evidence is clear in both my class and the research you have done that both play a role in molding who you are. I do not believe anything is coincidence but it is crazy to think back on past events in your life and ponder the "what-ifs?". Also, I find it interesting what we learned in class today that children are likely to be smarter than their parents, who are likely to be smarter than their parents, which fits along with this post. I disagree, however, with the idea that the oldest child is smartest. In my family of 3, I being the middle child, we have clearly recognized that (although my older sister is very intelligent) we get increasingly smarter from oldest to youngest. For example, in elementary school, my older sister was tested and accepted into the gifted program in 4th grade, I in 3rd grade, and my younger sister in kindergarten. I really want to read up on some evidence that the oldest is typically smarter.

I find it interesting to see how other people "rank" in intelligence within their families. I am an only child and did well in school, yet other only children in my class did not do very well in school at all. I did, however, notice that many of my friends who were the oldest child did the best in school. Of course, there were some exceptions. Based on what I know about my friends' family life, I feel that intelligence is definitely more impacted by environment and having a good family life and childhood, rather than who is the eldest sibling. I also think that family life is intertwined with whether or not being the eldest can affect intelligence. For example, if you are the oldest child, your parents have more time to devote to you when you're younger. This is probably due to the fact that at that time, you had no other siblings to detract your parents' attention from you. The foundation they build when you're younger is essential to being academically successful later in life.

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