Those Elusive IQ Genes

For years researchers have been hunting for that elusive gene, or group of genes, that make up your IQ. For years they have gotten no closer that they were before to finding an answer. A long-standing opinion has always been that there were fewer than six genes that comprise the “intelligence genes” but that theory has been shot out of the water recently, and now scientists believe there are more than 1,000. But, how many more?

A recent study has come up with new evidence to believe there are many genes that play a role in intelligence, but they don’t now which ones.   “It’s been kind of a shock to the system that it hasn’t worked,” said psychologist Eric Turkheimer at the University of Virginia, who had no role in the study. “We can’t find the effects of any individual genes that are large enough to seem worth worrying about.”

What they do know for sure, from working with twins and adopted children, is that genes hold a significant role in IQ scores, and their influence appears to grow from childhood on. They have also come to realize that there may not be only one gene, or a cluster of them, that have a major role in intelligence, but rather a large group of genes that have a small influence individually.

As reported online in August in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, a new DNA study has concluded pretty much the same thing, that many genes working together shape intelligence, similar to pieces of a band that work together to bring the harmony. Without the addition of a vocalist it becomes difficult to decipher what each instrument contributed to the overall music.

Another thing to consider is environment. As much debate there is as to how much nature vs nurture contributes to our intelligence, the fact is they both do. They don’t act alone, and our experiences play a part in how we learn, and how much. Example: a child surrounded by books and educational toys who has interactive parents, has a much better chance of receiving higher IQ scores on standardized tests than a child in the ghetto who lives with a junkie parent. It does not mean the ghetto child has a smaller brain or potential, but simply that being surrounded by a positive environment that encourages learning gives them a better advantage to comprehend the test structure.

What’s so important between the relationship of genes and intelligence? Because they may be important in understanding more about Alzheimer’s and other mind diseases.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, with help from other researchers from around the world, started out to find “whether genetic differences that we could test on people’s DNA could explain some of the reasons that people have different intelligence test scores,” Scottish researcher I. J. Deary said. Although they weren’t able to identify any genes that affected IQ, they were able to find genetic influence that “accounts for at least 40%-50% of the differences on intelligence test scores. Their conclusion was that our overall IQ comes from a variety of scattered genetic genes that each provide some small influence.

Although he didn’t participate in the study, Robert Plomin of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, has been studying intelligence genes for over 15 years and wasn’t surprised by the results. “We’ve got a century of twin and adoption studies, such as those comparing twins reared in different families, that support the notion that about half of IQ differences come from DNA,” he said.

From the Desk of Ron White, memory speaker.

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ABC News — Specific IQ Genes Still Elusive, Latest Hunt Finds by Alicia Chang and Malcolm Ritter:

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