BY: COLIN SAMPSON
Why is it that some people have the intellectual capabilities of a bag of milk? Is it the result of magnetism towards reality TV instead of books? Too many classes skipped for bong tokes in a friend’s garage? Or is stupidity genetic and did their parents also walk this world slack-jawed and with a sloped forehead? The debate over what dark forces created the village idiot always circles back to the classic argument of nature versus nurture.
But now scientists have discovered neural networks that are linked to human intelligence. Researchers at Imperial College in London, England believe that gene networks named M1 and M3 are critical to cognitive functions including reasoning, memory, processing speed and attention. Researchers targeted these congregations of genes by analyzing thousands of genes found inside a human’s brain and compared them with IQs that ranged from Noam Chomsky to Forrest Gump.
Neurologist, Michael Johnson of Imperial College in London, England said, ”We know that genetics plays a major role in intelligence but until now haven’t known which genes are relevant. This research highlights some of the genes involved in human intelligence, and how they interact with each other.”
The research shows that both M1 and M3 are likely to be under the control of a “master regulatory switch” and researchers believe that in the future they might be able to remodel human intelligence. While this is currently a theoretical proposition, it has monumental implications that could not only raise the cognitive abilities of the disadvantaged, but amplify the potential of the human brain.
“Traits such as intelligence are governed by large groups of genes working together – like a football team made up of players in different positions,” said Johnson. “We used computer analysis to identify the genes in the human brain that work together to influence our cognitive ability to make new memories or sensible decisions when faced with lots of complex information.”
These findings could be extremely significant in the treatment of neurodevelopment diseases and their latent cognitive impairments.