Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Children born with big heads have higher IQs and thus a better chance of a successful future

The connection between larger head size and higher IQ is well-known but is usually given as a correlation around .3.  But in this very careful research it came out at .5, which is a major effect.  Interestingly, autistic people tend to have big heads too, and they often have quite extraordinary abilities in some field.  The study mentioned below was not confined to head size.  It looked at many physical attributes -- and many were intertwined with IQ and achievement.  IQ is a physical reality and an important one.  All men are not equal

Babies with big heads are more likely to be clever and have successful futures, a study has shown. Research carried out by UK Biobank has strongly linked higher intelligence with large head circumferences and brain volume.

Half a million Brits are being monitored by the charity to discover the connection between their genes, their physical and mental health and their path through life.

The latest evidence is the first finding to emerge from the study that aims to break down the relationship between brain function and DNA.

Researchers in a paper published by the Molecular Psychiatry journal said: 'Highly significant associations were observed between the cognitive test scores in the UK Biobank sample and many polygenic profile scores, including . . . intracranial volume, infant head circumference and childhood cognitive ability.'

Professor Ian Deary, of Edinburgh University, who is leading the research, said gene variants were also strongly associated with intelligence, according to The Times. 

The new evidence is so accurate that experts claim it could even predict how likely it was that a baby would go to university based on their DNA. 


Monday, September 19, 2016

IQ rediscovered yet again.  You can't suppress reality for long

They account for around one per cent of the population and much of their success has been put down to dedication and perseverance.

But new studies are now challenging the notion that extremely intelligent children earn their achievements through hard work.

Instead, they suggest that they may have a genetic advantage from birth, and that success is built on this early head-start.

Two clusters of genes have been found that are directly linked to human intelligence.

Called M1 and M3, these 'gene networks' appear to determine how smart a person is by controlling their memory, attention, processing speed and reasoning.

Crucially, scientists have also discovered that these two networks - which each contain hundreds of genes - are likely to be under the control of master regulator switches.

Researchers from Imperial College London are now keen to identify these switches and explore whether it might be feasible to manipulate them.

The research is at a very early stage, but the scientists would ultimately like to investigate whether it is possible to use this knowledge of gene networks to boost cognitive function.

The investigators analysed thousands of genes expressed in the human brain, and then combined these results with genetic information from healthy people who had undergone IQ tests.

Remarkably, they found that some of the same genes that influence human intelligence in healthy people were also the same genes that cause impaired cognitive ability and epilepsy when mutated.

In the US, there are several universities that look out for early talent and have been tracking where high-achieving children end up.  Their results show that those who succeed have an early cognitive advantage.

Johns Hopkins University in Maryland runs a talent programme which is open to adolescents who scored in the top one per cent in maths and English.  Notable alumni include Mark Zuckerburg, founder of Facebook, and Lady Gaga.

While many of the children on this programme have gone on to achieve great things, Jonathan Wai, a psychologist in the Talent Identification Programme at Duke University in North Carolina, wanted to test whether childhood aptitude was a guide to success in general.

He looked at five subsets of the US elite – federal judges, billionaires, Fortune 500 chief executives and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. He found that in each subset, those in the top one per cent of ability were over-represented.

While these people could have pushy parents, or have attended top schools, Mr Wai argues that environment factors alone cannot account for success.....

While these studies do suggest that intelligence has a high genetic basis, education and opportunity could still lead to success for those without a strong genetic basis.


Friday, September 9, 2016

High IQ people are prejudiced too

The findings below are reminiscent of Yancey's work.  He looked at findings which showed conservatives to be more prejudiced and bigoted. He showed that, using similar research methods, you could show liberals to be prejudiced and bigoted too.  The difference was the target.  Conservatives tended to have dim views of homosexuals and blacks whereas liberals foamed at the mouth about Christians and conservatives

There is currently a small correlation between IQ and expressed liberalism.  High IQ people are quick to pick up on what the dominant political ideas are and to go along with such ideas for the sake of social acceptance.  Around the mid-20th century, when conservative ideas were dominant, high IQ people tended towards conservatism.  See here

It has long been believed that people with a low IQ are more likely to be prejudiced, including anti-gay attitudes and racism.  But new research suggests there may be more to the story.

The researchers looked at data from a survey which asked people to rate their feelings toward 24 different groups.

The survey also gauged participants' IQs using a measure of vocabulary that is linked with overall intelligence. As with previous studies, the results showed that people with low IQ showed more prejudice.

However, the researchers also found that people with higher IQs also showed prejudice.  What differed between the groups was who they showed prejudice towards.

The new study, which is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, suggests that people with lower IQs tend to dislike minorities they perceive as liberal.

In contrast with this, the researchers suggest that people higher on the IQ scale are more prejudiced towards conservative groups, such as religious fundamentalists.

Speaking to Live Science, Dr Mark Brandt, a psychologist at Tilburg University in Holland, who co-led the study, said: 'Because our study finds this on both ends of the cognitive ability continuum, it suggests this isn't just something that's unique to people with low cognitive ability.

'The simplest explanation for this result is that both people with high and low cognitive ability seem to express prejudice towards people they disagree with.'

The researchers looked at data from the 2012 American National Election Studies survey to explore the prejudice that participants may have had.

As with previous studies, the results showed that people with low IQ showed more prejudice. However, the researchers also found that people with higher IQs also showed prejudice.

What differed between the groups was who they showed prejudice towards.

Low-IQ people tended to dislike groups that are perceived as liberal and that people have little choice about whether they join – such as blacks, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and gay people.

In contrast with this, higher-IQ people tended to dislike groups that are perceived as conservative and that people have a choice about whether they join – such as businesses, the military, and Christian fundamentalists.

The results came as a surprise to the researchers, as liberal people tend to be more open to experience.

Dr Brandt said: 'Even people who are open to new ideas show this link between perceiving somebody as having different attitudes than them and expressing prejudice. 'It's kind of depressingly robust.'

The researchers also looked at what is behind the tendency to dislike people you disagree with. They found that the strongest factor seems to be that people dislike other people who they perceive to have different moral values than they do.

Dr Brandt added: 'We want to be at a place where we can say, 'Yep, I disagree with you, but that doesn't mean I dislike you, necessarily.'  'But that seems to be something that's relatively rare.'


Friday, September 2, 2016

LOL. A new politically correct term for genetic inheritance:  "rubbing off"

Parents' math skills 'rub off' on their children

September 1, 2016 in Other Sciences / Social Sciences
Parents who excel at math produce children who excel at math. This is according to a recently released University of Pittsburgh study, which shows a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to child. The study specifically explored intergenerational transmission—the concept of parental influence on an offspring's behavior or psychology—in mathematic capabilities.

"Our findings suggest an intuitive sense for numbers has been passed down—knowingly or unknowingly—from parent to child. Meaning, essentially, the math skills of parents tend to 'rub off' on their children," said lead researcher Melissa E. Libertus, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and a research scientist in the University's Learning Research and Development Center. The Department of Psychology is within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. "This research could have significant ramifications for how parents are advised to talk about math and numbers with their children and how teachers go about teaching children in classrooms."

Within the study, Pitt's researchers found that the performance levels for early school-aged children on standardized mathematic tests could be reliably predicted by their parent's performance on similar examinations. Specifically, they observed major correlations in parent-child performance in such key areas as mathematical computations, number-fact recall, and word problem analysis. Surprisingly, the researchers also found that children's intuitive sense of numbers—i.e. the ability to know that 20 jelly beans are more than 10 jelly beans without first counting them—is predicted by their parents' intuitive sense of numbers. Researchers determined that such close result parallels could not have been produced through similar institutional learning backgrounds because their previous research showed that this intuitive sense of numbers is present in infancy.

The findings represent the first evidence of intergenerational transmission of unlearned, nonverbal numerical competence from parents to children. While separate studies have pointed to the existence of intergenerational transmission of cognitive abilities, only a select few have examined parental influences in specific academic domains, such as mathematics.

Libertus said the study is an important step toward understanding the multifaceted parental influences on children's mathematic abilities. Her future studies will examine why this transference of mathematic capability occurs.

"We believe the relationship between a parent and a child's math capabilities could be some combination of hereditary and environmental transmission," said Libertus. "We look forward to future research endeavors that will explicitly examine the degree to which parents pass down key genetic traits and create an in-home learning environment that is conducive to producing high-achieving math students."

For the present study, the math abilities of parents and children were assessed using the appropriate subtests from the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement, a nationally recognized standardized examination of baseline math ability. Children completed three subtests designed to gauge their capabilities in mathematical computations, basic number-fact recall, and word problems with visual aids. Parents completed a math fluency subtest as a measure of mathematical ability, and they were surveyed on the importance of children developing certain math skills.

The study sampled 54 children between the ages of 5 and 8 as well as 51 parents—46 mothers and five fathers—between the ages of 30 and 59. In terms of racial demographics of participating children, 45 were Caucasian, five biracial, three African American, and one Asian. Forty-six participating parents had at least a college degree, and all possessed at least a high school diploma.

A Pitt faculty member since 2013, Libertus' research focuses on the understanding of how children perceive and learn mathematical concepts. The long-range goals of her work seek to identify key factors in the successful learning of mathematics. Emily J. Braham, a doctoral student with a cognitive-neuroscience concentration in the Department of Psychology, assisted in this research study.

The study "Intergenerational Associations in Numerical Approximation and Mathematical Abilities" is available in the latest edition of Developmental Science.