A new study, carried out by researchers from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, finds that the environment can change the expression of a key gene in the brain, influencing intelligence much more than it was previously thought.
Having analyzed the characteristics of a number of genes of 1,500 healthy adolescents and compared the results with the IQ scores and many neurological traits, the researchers discovered a strong relationship between the epigenetic modifications of one particular gene and general IQ. It means that various experiences of our life not only affect the wiring of the brain, but also the way the genes function at a basic level.
The study first author Jakob Kaminski says: “Environmentally-induced gene activity now joins the ranks of other factors known to influence IQ test performance, such as poverty and genetic constitution. In the study, we were able to observe how individual differences in IQ test results are linked to both epigenetic changes and differences in brain activity which are under environmental influences.”