DNA Day experts answer your questions about about genetics and intelligence

20 April 2012

Above: Image © kirstypargeter, iStockphoto.com

Is intelligence tied to genetics?

Well first off how does one define intelligence. But yes there is most likely a genetic component, but I would suspect environment plays a significant part as well.

- Answer provided by Dr. Dennis McCormac

Is there anyway that genetics could alter a person's intelligence?

This is really two parts. First, do genes contribute to intelligence? Yes, but I don't think the exact contribution is known. One of the issues is, how do you define intelligence? By IQ tests? Why then are IQ scores rising around the world much faster than would be possible genetically? And the second part is ... If there are genes that contribute to intelligence it's certain that there are very many, controlling much different pathways in the brain. So how you would be able to alter all of those seems impossible to me.

- Answer provided by Jay Ingram

How much of our intelligence is determined by the genetic information contained in the DNA?

This is an interesting questions. I think that intelligence is determined by DNA and genetic information. But traits like intelligence are usually multigenic (involve many genes) and therefore can be difficult to study. Scientists are still learning how genes interact with each other, and there are definitely environmental factors that would play a significant role in how these genes are expressed. So the ability to select for intelligence would be difficult.

- Answer provided by Dr. Dennis McCormac


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