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.”
A new German study, published in the journal Cell Reports, suggests that parents may boost the intelligence of their offspring by exercising.
The research, using a mice model, showed that active mice are more likely to have offspring with the higher ability to learn compared to mice whose movement was restricted. German researchers identified that “microRNA” molecules which were known to promote this neuron connectivity in the brain, as well as in the sperm, in response to exercise.
Study author Professor André Fischer from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease says: “Presumably, [miRNA212 and miRNA132] modify brain development in a very subtle manner improving the connection of neurons. This results in a cognitive advantage for the offspring.”
A recent study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, finds that children aged between 9 and 11 years who ate fish at least once a week had higher IQ scores and better sleep qualify than children who ate fish seldom.
For the study, a team of researchers assessed the fish consumption of 541 children from China aged 9–11. They used a dietary questionnaire to find out how much fish they consumed during the previous month.
Study co-author Prof. Adrian Raine, of the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn State’s Perelman School of Medicine, explains: “Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behavior; poor cognition is associated with antisocial behavior. We have found that omega-3 supplements reduce antisocial behavior, so it’s not too surprising that fish is behind this.”
A new study, published in The BMJ, reports that children with higher IQ are believed to have higher chances of longer life and lower risk of such diseases as heart disease, stroke, smoking-related cancers, respiratory disease, and dementia.
For the study, the researchers collected data from 33,526 and 32,229 women born in Scotland in 1936, who took validated childhood intelligence test at age of 11, and who could be followed to cause of death data up to December 2015.
Scientists say: “Importantly, it shows that childhood IQ is strongly associated with causes of death that are, to a great extent, dependent on already known risk factors. Tobacco smoking and its distribution along the socioeconomic spectrum could be of particular importance here.”
For the study, a team of researchers analyzed data received 15,000 pairs of twins who completed online tests at age 12 to measure their “geek-like” traits, including non-verbal IQ, focus, and social aloofness. The researchers also received data from their parents.
Study author Magdalena Janecka, a postdoctoral fellow at the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, says: “We have known for a while about the negative consequences of advanced parental age but now we have shown that these children may also go on to have better educational and career prospects.”