In a revolutionary study, researchers identified 52 genes associated with the intelligence of humans. Although they do not seem to dictate how smart a person will be, the genes appear to be directly related to skills such as reasoning, the association of information, and problem-solving.

The discovery may pave the way to treat learning disabilities in children and related conditions.

Image credit: News Target
Image credit: News Target

The keys to intelligence

Researchers acknowledge that intelligence is associated with economic and health factors, including heritability, and genetic disposition. They start off by revealing that previous studies that have tried to associate intelligence to certain genes did not have the tools needed to reach a conclusion.

For this study, researchers analyzed the intelligence of 78,308 subjects, including adults and children. They found 40 additional new genes that appear to influence IQ, reaching a sum of 52.

Apparently, these genes tell our bodies how to construct neurons, which transmit information through the synaptic process.

The participants had completed a variety of tests, including general and fluid intelligence tests. They had their genomes scanned, as researchers looked for single base pair differences that would allow them to draw an association between genomic regions and test scores.

They determined that a single gene could not account for a large impact in intelligence. But they also found that some of the pinpointed genes had to do with autism, successful smoking cessation, and educational achievement. Of the selected genes, some had to do with depression and other mental illnesses, which shows that the genes are not solely related to intelligence.

One could look at this study as if intelligence was not an isolated factor.

 “These findings provide new insight into the genetic architecture of intelligence,” reads the report.

This refers to how intelligence actually looks like within our neurological structure.

In the simplest of terms, one could think that intelligence was directly related to brain size. The bigger the brain, the smarter the person is. While we know that this is not true, the IQ test was developed to have a statistical approach to intelligence. Still, the IQ level is not a definitive way of measuring intelligence as different types of intelligence have to do with linguistics, mathematical prowess, and even spatial intelligence.

What this study shows is that intelligence is related to an array of genes that make up the traits of an intelligent person. As each gene is activated or is more developed, an individual could be considered to be smarter in a particular way. Perhaps in the future, scientists will be able to know the exact implications of altering a certain gene.

This means that children could be educated in a personalized way to allow them to develop their weaker traits that demonstrate intelligence. Because education in schools is systematic at most, one can think that the way knowledge is imparted on kids could be improved greatly by knowing exactly what does the child need to learn to become a more intelligent human being, which could hardly be considered prejudicial.

Source: Nature