Are You Born Intelligent or Does It Develop Socially?
Despite what many people think, your social environment can also play an important role in the development of your intelligence. Geniuses aren’t only born – they can be made too. Certainly, you are born with a certain amount of intelligence and you may never achieve the intellectual abilities of someone else born with a different set of genes but equally, poor social nurturing can mean that you may never full realise the potential in your own genes.
The Heritability of IQIt is widely accepted that intelligence is a trait that is passed down through the generations and the degree to which the intelligence quotient (IQ) is dependent on your genetic background has been extensively researched. For example, several traits are known to be primarily genetic, such as adult height or eye colour whereas other traits have low heritability, meaning that they are heavily influenced by the environment – such as depression in men. The way this is measured is by seeing how much a certain trait varies in people with very similar or different genetic and environmental backgrounds. Identical twins raised separated is a common method as any differences can then be attributed to the environment. From these studies, it was shown that IQ has relatively high heritability and that the majority of IQ differences between adults can be explained genetically. Scientists believes that the relevant genes express themselves by affecting an individual’s predisposition to learn, build and develop mental abilities throughout their life.
Thus, it is believed that genetics can account for 75% of your adult intelligence, with the environment being responsible for the remaining 25%. However, what is interesting is that research has found only a few specific genes which have a distinct, substantial effect on IQ – which means that intelligence is probably the result of the action of numerous genes, and their interaction with environmental stimuli, rather than the product of a specific “intelligence gene”. In fact, many believe that as much as 40% of all genes may contribute to overall intelligence.
The Social Development of IQDespite the big role that genetic plays in determining intelligence, social and environmental factors can have an important influence too. In fact, research shows that aside from genes and formal education, early family environments also play a crucial role. Evidence shows that a baby’s intelligence is not fully developed at birth but gradually evolves and changes, especially throughout the early elementary school years.
Parents actually a greater impact on their child’s IQ than any other person or institution in the child’s life, including schools and this impact is greatest during infancy and childhood, up to the age of eight or nine, after which parental influence diminishes. Things parents can do to improve their child’s IQ include: maintaining your own education, getting good nutrition and prenatal care, spending as much time with the child as possible, interacting and stimulating his mind through reading, shapes, numbers, colours, etc and exposing the child to experience outside the home.
Certain studies have linked specific activities with improved mental function. For example, one piece of research suggests that musical training can lead to the development of higher brain functions and in particular, better mathematical ability. Music is believed to enhance the brain's ability to visualise and transform objects in space and time, as well as the ‘hard wiring' for spatial-temporal reasoning. Another study showed that babies brought up in a stimulating environment (starting from in the womb) were more dynamic, alert and curious, with good hand-eye coordination and high social skills.