Scientists claim half of intelligence depends on genes, but environment actually determines their expression
08/20/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Studies found that genetics and environment play a role in the level of intelligence of a person.

In a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers found that more than half of the differences in intelligence among individuals are due to the genes of each person.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh, University of Göttingen, and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany who analyzed the impact of rare genetic variants to the intelligence levels of people. In conducting the study, the research team looked at thousands of genetic markers in the DNA of 20,000 individuals to find signals related with intelligence quotient (IQ). The team used two statistical methods to determine how much impact rare genetic variants had on intelligence.

The results of the study revealed that more than half of the difference in intelligence between people are because of the combined effect of rare and common genetic variants, although rare genes covered for a disproportionate amount of intelligence in comparison to more common genetic variants. In addition, it was found that apart from genes, environmental factors are believed to produce a great impact on the intelligence of an individual. The environmental factors include parenting, nutrition, and exposure to chemicals in the womb.

“By combining the effect of both rare and common variants, more than 50 percent of the differences in intelligence between people could be traced to their genes,” said David Hill, the lead author of the study.


In the other study, which was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, it was discovered that inherited IQ can be enhanced in early childhood because environment and education matter.

The study was conducted by a team of scientists from Rutgers University. In conducting the study, the team carried out an integrative review of recent studies on the nature of human intelligence.

"Genetic influences don't run the show, nor do environmental effects. It's the genetic-environmental interplay that is the ringmaster," said Louis Matzel, a professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers-New Brunswick.

The scientists believe that their study highlights the importance of how children are educated as their inherited IQ can improve, particularly during early childhood, with the right type of stimulation and attention.

"Through interactions and correlations with the environment, genetic influences can be expressed in wildly different ways, and environmental influences are much more powerful than many scientists believe," Rutgers University psychologist Bruno Sauce said.

The study authors saw that intelligence trait typically rates at 0.8 and is very inheritable, but it can also be as low as 0.3. This means that intelligence can still be improved. Inherited IQ and environment work together in the establishment of the intelligence of a person.

According to an article published on the website, there are several ways to increase your intelligence. These include:

  • Do physical exercise regularly.
  • Get enough and good quality sleep.
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet packed with brain foods.
  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Meditate.
  • Get exposed to new and interesting learning challenges regularly.
  • Join a general knowledge quiz group.
  • Interact with intelligent, educated people.
  • Watch a variety of educational TV shows.
  • Read a serious book a week and expand your reading.
  • Exercise your brain by playing mentally challenging computer games.
  • Utilize brain-training software.
  • Challenge yourself.

If you'd want to read more news stories and studies about intelligence, visit

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