July 13, 2014
Genetic Differences In Chimp Intelligence

Yet another way we are similar to chimpanzees: Big role for genes and small role for environment in determining intelligence.

ATLANTA–A chimpanzee's intelligence is largely determined by its genes, while environmental factors may be less important than scientists previously thought, according to a Georgia State University research study.

The study found that some, but not all, cognitive, or mental, abilities, in chimpanzees depend significantly on the genes they inherit. The findings are reported in the latest issue of Current Biology.

Intelligence runs in chimp families. Just like humans.

"Intelligence runs in families," said Dr. William Hopkins, professor in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State and research scientist in the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University. "The suggestion here is that genes play a really important role in their performance on tasks while non-genetic factors didn't seem to explain a lot. So that's new."

Comparison of brain genes in humans and chimps could point to important genes that have genetic variants that cause differences in intelligence levels. Some of the intelligence related genes in chimps that vary between chimps might vary between humans too.

The findings suggest that differences in cognition may have arisen in the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees about 5 million years ago. The findings may also lead to the discovery of particular intelligence-related genes.

The discovery of genetic variants in humans that cause differences in intelligence will cause a huge change in mating and reproductive practices within 20 years. My guess is the change will start within 10 years as genetic variants for intelligence begin to be identified. Affluent people especially will go more for IVF. They will start paying for genetic testing on multiple embryos to choose embryos with higher IQ-boosting genes. That will cause a huge acceleration in human evolution.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2014 July 13 10:58 PM 

Gerard Mason said at July 14, 2014 12:40 AM:

The Left don't seem to have noticed the importance of these findings, perhaps because they don't see the implications for human IQ. Once they do -- or once someone points it out to them -- expect howls of anger and a "discovery" that chimp research can be "racist" too.

Anonymous said at July 14, 2014 6:38 AM:

1. That genes have a big role in intelligence is pretty obvious for anyone that is intelligent. They say we have something like 99% of the genes similar to a chimp, so obviously what makes us much more intelligent is concentrated in very few genes. Therefore even a tiny bit of difference can change a person a lot.
2. The best way to make more people choose to reproduce in vitro with the best genes would be to make selective reproduction in chimps, relating to intelligence. Then in few generations, instead of strong chimps being the alpha, we'd have supersmart chimps. People would see the genetic importance, and rush to create superbabies.
3. @ mason: Since you're complaining about "the left" you're probably "the right". Being on "the right" or "the left" has also been identified with genetic markers. You're not as free as you think. Also, when you demonize a whole group, they have a higher tendency to sticking together to defend themselves (herd mentality) and will reinforce their views even further. You should treat people individually.

James Bowery said at July 14, 2014 9:49 AM:

I've been noticing a move away from the rhetoric about humans and chimps sharing a large amount of "DNA" and it is being replaced by a variety of metrics that go as low as "70%". Of course, whenever they introduce one of these new metrics they never apply the same metric in the same context to the rhetoric about the amount of "DNA" shared between human populations -- so we're now left with some folks claiming that any findings with chimps are irrelevant to humans. Of course these same people will turn around and in the next breath start talking about how humans are femme gay because bonobos have been seen engaging in behavior that, in their fevered imaginations, proves male bonobos like to have sex with each other rather than fight, etc. and humans are basically bonobos in their DNA.

Petros said at July 29, 2014 2:13 PM:

Chimps make war like humans do. Genocidal war, total war. Humans are like common chimps.

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