Genetics

Do Genetics Determine Human Intelligence



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Scientists have long been trying to track down the gene responsible for human intelligence. David Haussler, director of the center for Bio-molecular Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his team found strong but still circumstantial evidence that a certain gene, called HAR1F, could be the gene responsible for humans being more intelligent than the other primates.

There are only two differences in that one gene between a chimp and a chicken, according to Haussler. But there are eighteen differences in that one gene between human and chimp, and they all seemed to occur in the evolution of human beings from chimps.

Studies are still underway in this area, with a number of scientists all over the world working on it. The results of their research so far have given us strong reasons to believe that they are probably on the right track.

Of course, the extent of a person's intelligence is influenced by other factors as well. A child's upbringing, early education, diet and the company he or she keeps all contribute to the cerebral development.

Different races have constantly shown different levels of intelligence. Average IQ levels vary widely between people of different ethnic origins. Part of it is attributed to the different styles of upbringing that people from different parts of the world practice. Parenting styles are different in Europe, compared to those in Asia. Also, education systems vary widely across continents. But these factors do not sufficiently account for the disparity in IQ levels across regions. Scientists have reason to believe that these differences are, in part, due to genetics.

Studies conducted with twins and siblings suggest that more than half of the variation in intelligence levels may be genetic. Genes play an important role in determining the size of an individual's brain, which bears correlation to intelligence. Human brains are, on the average, thrice as large as chimpanzee brains, while our bodies are only about twice as large.

Studies in this area still remain to be conducted in order to arrive at more definite conclusions. We are still not sure of the exact functions and roles of the genes that we have been studying, even if we do have reason to believe that those genes may be responsible for determining our intelligence. But one thing is for sure. Genes are not the only factor in determining a person's intelligence. Nature and nurture both have a role to play.

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