Brain & Behaviour Environment Genetics Health Psychology

The Brain Enigma

What makes you from logical to intellectual; Role of GENETICS, EPIGENETICS and PSYCHOLOGY in determination of human IQ.

Introduction:

The human brain, Nature’s greatest marvel of all times. A world within the world. The greatest mystery of time that how this human brain came to be, how it made us what we are today. Just take a little peek in the brain under Ampere meter and you see a whole new universe within the human head, not very much different from our own galaxy. Massive luminous sparks that emerge from neural transmission are very much look like shooting and travelling stars inside the Milky Way. The most complicated and creative gadget that we have discovered up till now, yet hardly understood.

Unlike the brains of all living organisms, human brain has some startling features that make it the most sophisticated enigma of the universe. Humans have the ability of self-consciousness. They have the ability to think on the phenomena going on around them. They have the amazing capacity of intelligence. While going through many quotations and descriptions about intelligence, there is this one particular quote by Stephen Hawking;

“Intelligence is the ability of a person to adapt to change”

When we look at the entire human history, this quote is the only reason that has enabled the human beings to be at the top of the food chain. Those closely related humanlike organisms e.g. Neanderthals (cave men) who failed to develop their brains according to the changing world, were totally wiped off from face of this planet. But what exactly is responsible for this developmental deviation in humans. What exactly causes some humans to be more intelligent than the others? This is the greatest riddle to be solved.

To determine the possible causes, I and my team members organized a research under Biology Decoded and i2s labs from a period of August to October 2016.

Research Methodology:

The research was survey based in which total 150 responses were analyzed from all over Pakistan, mainly from Punjab geographical belt. No more than three members of a same family tree were allowed to respond to the survey in order to fulfill the criteria of genetic diversity. The three biological frontiers on which the research was based were genetics, epigenetics and psychology. All the respondents were in the age range of 18-60 years and were using their intellectual skills in one field or another. The research results contain some remarkable findings that we think can be helpful in determination the exact pattern of flow of human IQ.

Results:

Genetic Findings:

Quite recently, it has been proved that human intelligence is a polygenic trait that is it is controlled by more than one genes. Moreover three minor genes that may be responsible in heritability of IQ have been identified. In our survey we concluded following genetic patterns:

  • 60% results showed that IQ level of a child is usually the blend of both parents.
  • Siblings under a family tree are never equally intelligent. This response was confirmed by 70% of people.
  • Members of the same family more likely do not share same type of intellectual skills and interests.
  • Members of the same family do not face same type of psychological hurdles in their intellectual fields which clearly shows that the environment plays a major role in determination of IQ.
  • The IQ level has a random determination pattern even in same gene pool, country, community and geography.
  • Those families that have the problem of inherited familial stress seem to be less intelligent because brain faculties are compromised.
  • Inherited Autism can drive the IQ both ways. In a mild case , if the individuals becomes more focused towards studies and such other skills, they can become extra ordinary especially in fields of mathematics, sciences and music. However in severe cases of ASD the individual may be fully mentally compromised.
  • Pre-natal environment of fetus is one of the most important factor as it is directly involved in development of the brain of child. Mothers who face problems such as malnutrition, there children are sometimes mentally challenged. Drugs and alcoholism also affects the mental development of fetus.
  • Under same type of controlled conditions, the IQ range within the family can be made roughly similar.

 

Twin case studies:

In the survey 25 pairs each of identical and fraternal twins were also questioned. In both cases results were different from one another

  • Identical twins share same level of IQ under same conditions.
  • Fraternal twins do not show same IQ level in any condition.

Environmental Factors:

The survey was carried out randomly among middle class and upper middle class communities. The environmental factors that may tamper with human IQ have following effects:

  • For intelligent people, work load is either normal (67%) or not a problem (20%).
  • People having average or above average IQ do not fall into the habit of taking drugs and pain killers perhaps because brain itself can cope with such problems.
  • A regular diet, containing a safe proportion of all the constituents of human nutrition is necessary for proper development of IQ.
  • Intelligent people usually prefer homemade food, eating outside totally depends on their mood.
  • Uncontaminated drinking and bathing water, that is either chemically neutral or medically safe (27%) or has never caused any health complications (63%) is also seem to play its role in polishing IQ.
  • People dwelling in less industrial urban areas are typically more intelligent because deposition of toxic industrial air pollutants causes serious mental health problems e.g. Alzheimer’s disease.
  • More intelligent people dwell in less noisy areas, as noise pollution leads to mental stress which compromises your intelligence.
  • If you are intelligent by birth, lack of reward is not a big deal for you.
  • The most dominant factor that can change the IQ level of a person during his life is the change in environment, shifting to more competitive environments acts as an epigenetic factor to boost the intelligence.

Psychological Traits:

While conducting the survey, it seemed as if the determination of IQ in each person has a different pattern. But once this IQ is established, these people more likely have identical psychological traits and some of surprising facts are

  • Intelligent people are hardly satisfied with their life, some of them think that they could have done better.
  • They like to solve the problems of other people and take these up as a challenge. Survey findings show 60% people have this habit and for another 33% its almost hobby.
  • Their joining the social gatherings is highly unlikely and totally depends on their mood.
  • In a long lecture or seminar, they can either listen to speaker as long as sanely possible (52%) or whenever they want to (40%).
  • If they fall into slightest doubt about the accuracy and perfection of their work, they don’t rest until they are reassured.
  • They usually don’t pick any physical or verbal fights.
  • If they have to explain something, they prefer to present their logics in as few words as possible (83%).
  • They only speak up when they think that there is something that they can contribute in a healthy discussion.
  • Intelligent people want to fix the world (66%) and for additional (11%0 it is a constant tension.
  • Intelligent people believe that they may have room for improvement (39%) and for additional (58%) there is a constant need of improvement.

Conclusion:

So as evident from the above findings, genetic inheritance is mandatory in determination of IQ, while epigenetic factors also play a major part in polishing and driving the human brain.

 

By: Waleed Sohail Chohan

Research partners:  Asif Qamar, Daniya Kiyani

 

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About the author

Waleed Sohail Chohan

Waleed Sohail Chohan is currently finishing his BS from University of Gujrat. He is currently Biology Decoded's Director of Media Team and President of our Gujranwala Headquarters.