February 22, 2010
Intelligence Tracked To Brain Regions

Spearman's g-factor comes from a distributed set of brain regions.

PASADENA, Calif.—A collaborative team of neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the University of Iowa, the University of Southern California (USC), and the Autonomous University of Madrid have mapped the brain structures that affect general intelligence.

The study, to be published the week of February 22 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds new insight to a highly controversial question: What is intelligence, and how can we measure it?

The research team included Jan Gläscher, first author on the paper and a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, and Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and professor of biology. The Caltech scientists teamed up with researchers at the University of Iowa and USC to examine a uniquely large data set of 241 brain-lesion patients who all had taken IQ tests. The researchers mapped the location of each patient's lesion in their brains, and correlated that with each patient's IQ score to produce a map of the brain regions that influence intelligence.

Of course, if IQ differences can be traced down to physical differences in brain regions then IQ is a product of physical qualities of brains.

Connections between the brain regions matter too.

"One of the main findings that really struck us was that there was a distributed system here. Several brain regions, and the connections between them, were what was most important to general intelligence," explains Gläscher.

Once the genetic causes of intelligence differences become known and DNA testing becomes ultra-cheap the dating and mating game will change quite drastically. Equally intelligent people won't have equal odds at making smart babies because some will have some IQ-boosting genes on only one out of a chromosome pair and others will have the boosting genes on both chromosomes. The latter will make the most attractive mates for those who want smart babies. Also, in vitro fertlization with genetic testing to select embryos will become the rage for those most ambitious about their children.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 February 22 10:34 PM  Brain Intelligence


Comments
Faruq said at February 23, 2010 2:01 AM:

but in this brave new future,where everyone is hyper-intelligent,won't life be boring? After all, the village idiot gives cause for laughter,who'll be the jester in the future?

Brett Bellmore said at February 23, 2010 2:41 AM:

"some will have some IQ-boosting genes on only one out of a chromosome pair and others will have the boosting genes on both chromosomes. The latter will make the most attractive mates for those who want smart babies."

Well, unless some IQ-boosting genes only boost IQ in the absence of other IQ-boosting genes. It's hardly going to be the case that they're all additive, in all combinations. You might even get some rather smart people looking for mates of only modest intelligence, to avoid insanity in their offspring.

The real key here is that this will lead to understanding HOW those genes boost intelligence, which could lead to further improvements through drugs and engineered genes.

not anon or anonymous said at February 23, 2010 11:21 AM:

Faruq, most people of average or lower intelligence are not especially amusing. Perhaps we'd have more comedians if everyone was smarter.

Brett Bellmore, I agree that many of these intelligence-boosting effects will eventually be replicated by cheap drugs. This is why researching the genetic causes of high intelligence is very important.

Faruq said at February 23, 2010 12:25 PM:

ok,forget low iq people being funny,what about the sheer uniformity of everyone being super-smart? won't it get tedious with everyone talking about whether they like Dali or picasso, or their take on the new Tate museum in London? Also, can everyone visit the website called 'the hedonistic imperative' and give their take on it? (sorry a million Randall for de-railing your thread on IQ).

Bob Badour said at February 23, 2010 2:05 PM:

I've never really met a smart person who talked about Dali or Picasso. Mostly that's for people who need to demonstrate status some other way.

What will be interesting is to see how people compete for status when everyone is uniformly gifted in all respects.

Dave said at February 23, 2010 2:20 PM:

Why don't these press releases and PR statements ever put direct links to the PRIMARY SOURCE? Is it that hard? So annoying to go digging for it, and so seemingly easy to do in the first place!!

Faruq said at February 23, 2010 2:35 PM:

Here is the website about future human genetic engineering I wanted people to see:http://www.hedweb.com/
Most of my friends tell me that it's impossible since suffering is part of human nature and depression is a result of societal pressures,not seratonin or genes. But I wonder if anyone thinks the stuff outlines in the hedonsitic imperative is technically feasible?

Bob Badour said at February 23, 2010 2:58 PM:

Faruq,

Your "friends" are blowing smoke up your ass.

Depression is a human adaptation to chronic stress. Seratonin is part of the mechanism, but it doesn't really kick in with anhedonia until dopamine depletion. Genes influence how much chronic stress one can tolerate before triggering the cascade of hormonal events that result in depression (anhedonia). Some folks can tolerate more stress. Some less.

Can you increase purposeful exercise in your life? Churchill built brick walls and painted. I garden and stack firewood.

Nothing too elaborate. Just enough to occupy your mind while you exercise your muscles and preferably leave an accomplishment in your wake.

Faruq said at February 23, 2010 3:34 PM:

Thanks for the tips on exercise for depression. But when I said depression I didn't mean personal depression on the part of an individual but depression as in unhappiness on the part of the entire human race. My friend was a female philosopher of quite high inttelligence who said that the ideas in the hedonistic imperative website were impossible. Scaringly enough for me,she said so without even thinking much.

Bob Badour said at February 23, 2010 4:06 PM:

Lots of smart people say dumb things without thinking much.

Whether the human race is unhappy depends on one's definition of unhappy.

All animal species (and some plants) seek out attractive reinforcers and shy away from aversive reinforcers. Some people will see this endless restlessness as unhappiness. I don't.

Humans in particular have a strong drive to seek status. Some people will see there is always someone higher on some status hierarchy and conclude the human race is eternally unhappy. I don't.

If the human species as a whole were depressed, the population wouldn't be growing as fast as it is.

the cat said at February 24, 2010 9:41 AM:

"ok,forget low iq people being funny,what about the sheer uniformity of everyone being super-smart? won't it get tedious with everyone talking about whether they like Dali or picasso, or their take on the new Tate museum in London? Also, can everyone visit the website called 'the hedonistic imperative' and give their take on it? (sorry a million Randall for de-railing your thread on IQ)."

Uniformity among the high IQ? Getting really smart people to agree on anything is like trying to herd cats. Go to a mensa meeting, they let non members visit, and you'll see what I'm talking about. The higher the IQ the LESS agreement there generally is.

a said at February 25, 2010 2:48 AM:

"Of course, if IQ differences can be traced down to physical differences in brain regions then IQ is a product of physical qualities of brains."

What else would it be a product of?

Brett Bellmore said at February 25, 2010 3:47 AM:

The IQ fairy, one gets the impression, when talking to people who reject the heritability of IQ. They're more concerned about denying a particular source, than identifying what the source might be.

Larry said at February 28, 2010 6:02 PM:

Once we can really assess the reproductive worth of someone's genome, I predict a rapid conversion to sperm donor-based reproduction.

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