A child’s in­tel­li­gence is passed down from the mother

The Sun (Malaysia) - - LIFESTYLE -

AC­CORD­ING to re­searchers, a mother’s ge­net­ics de­ter­mines how clever her chil­dren are, while the fa­ther makes no dif­fer­ence.

Women are more likely to trans­mit in­tel­li­gence genes to their chil­dren be­cause they are car­ried on the X chro­mo­some and women have two of th­ese, while men only have one.

But in ad­di­tion to this, sci­en­tists now be­lieve genes for ad­vanced cog­ni­tive func­tions which are in­her­ited from the fa­ther may be au­to­mat­i­cally de­ac­ti­vated.

A cat­e­gory of genes known as ‘con­di­tioned genes’ are thought to work only if they come from the mother in some cases and the fa­ther in other cases.

In­tel­li­gence is be­lieved to be among the con­di­tioned genes that have to come from the mother.

Lab­o­ra­tory stud­ies us­ing ge­net­i­cally-mod­i­fied mice found that those with an ex­tra dose of ma­ter­nal genes de­vel­oped big­ger heads and brains, but had lit­tle bod­ies. Those with an ex­tra dose of pa­ter­nal genes had small brains and larger bod­ies.

Re­searchers iden­ti­fied cells that con­tained only ma­ter­nal or pa­ter­nal genes in six dif­fer­ent parts of the mouse brains which con­trolled dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive func­tions, from eat­ing habits to mem­ory.

Cells with pa­ter­nal genes ac­cu­mu­lated in parts of the lim­bic sys­tem, which is in­volved in func­tions such as sex, food and ag­gres­sion.

But re­searchers did not find any pa­ter­nal cells in the cere­bral cor­tex, which is where the most ad­vanced cog­ni­tive func­tions take place, such as rea­son­ing, thought, lan­guage and plan­ning.

Con­cerned that peo­ple might not be like mice, re­searchers in Glas­gow took a more hu­man ap­proach to ex­plor­ing in­tel­li­gence.

They found the the­o­ries ex­trap­o­lated from mice stud­ies bear out in re­al­ity when they in­ter­viewed 12,686 peo­ple be­tween the ages of 14 and 22 ev­ery year from 1994.

De­spite tak­ing into ac­count sev­eral fac­tors, from the par­tic­i­pants ed­u­ca­tion to their race and so­cioe­co­nomic status, the team still found the best pre­dic­tor of in­tel­li­gence was the IQ of the mother.

How­ever, re­search also makes it clear that ge­net­ics is not the only de­ter­mi­nant of in­tel­li­gence – only 40 to 60% of in­tel­li­gence is es­ti­mated to be hered­i­tary, leav­ing a sim­i­lar chunk de­pen­dent on the en­vi­ron­ment.

But moth­ers have also been found to play an ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant role in this non-ge­netic part of in­tel­li­gence.

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Washington found that a se­cure emo­tional bond be­tween a mother and child is cru­cial for the growth of some parts of the brain.

Af­ter analysing the way a group of moth­ers re­lated to their chil­dren for seven years, the re­searchers found chil­dren who were sup­ported emo­tion­ally and had their in­tel­lec­tual needs ful­filled had a 10% larger hip­pocam­pus at 13 on av­er­age than chil­dren whose moth­ers were emo­tion­ally dis­tant.

The hip­pocam­pus is an area of the brain as­so­ci­ated with mem­ory, learn­ing and stress re­sponse.

A strong bond with the mother is thought to give a child a sense of se­cu­rity which al­lows them to ex­plore the world, and the con­fi­dence to solve prob­lems.

In ad­di­tion, de­voted, at­ten­tive moth­ers tend to help chil­dren solve prob­lems, fur­ther help­ing them to reach their po­ten­tial. – The In­de­pen­dent

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