April 05, 2010


This evening, I came across a New Scientist article on Picking Our Brains : Nine Neural Frontiers and another interesting one on WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE SMARTER? which I thought I'd share with you....

Excerpt from HERE:

AT EINSTEIN's autopsy in 1955, his brain was something of a disappointment: it turned out to be a tad smaller than the average Joe's. Indeed, later studies have suggested a minimal link between brain size and intelligence. It seems brain quality rather than quantity is key.

One important factor seems to be how well our neurons can talk to each other. Martijn van den Heuvel, a neuroscientist at Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, found that smarter brains seem to have more efficient networks between neurons - in other words, it takes fewer steps to relay a message between different regions of the brain. That could explain about a third of the variation in a population's IQ, he says.

Another key factor is the insulating fatty sheath encasing neuron fibres, which affects the speed of electrical signals. Paul Thompson at the University of California, Los Angeles, has found a correlation between IQ and the quality of the sheaths (The Journal of Neuroscience, vol 29, p 2212).

We still don't know exactly how much genes contribute to intelligence, with various studies coming up with estimates ranging from 40 to 80 per cent. This wide range of estimates might have arisen because genes contribute more to IQ as we get older, according to a study published last year. By comparing the intelligence of 11,000 pairs of twins, Robert Plomin of King's College London found that at age 9, genes explain 40 per cent of the variation, but by 17 they account for roughly two-thirds (Molecular Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1038/mp.2009.55). CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Interesting, isn't it? Do you agree with this? Do leave a comment if you wish to share your thoughts and views. Thanks!