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Aug   2012

Fri

03

The Intel Behind Intelligence

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Tags: science research, brain research, behavioral brain research, human intelligence

by
Data Entry Specialist, Carnegie Communications

Could you have an intellectual limit based on your genetics? Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have shed some light on this question in their search for true understanding of human intelligence.

By analyzing brain images captured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we may be able to predict how intelligent a human is.

“Our research shows that connectivity with a particular party of the prefrontal cortex can predict how intelligent someone is,” suggests Michael W. Cole, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in cognitive neuroscience at Washington University. Co-author Todd Braver, Ph.D., co-director of the Cognitive Control and Psychopathology Lab at Washington University, added “This study suggests that part of what it means to be intelligent is having a prefrontal cortex that does its job well; and part of what that means is that it can effectively communicate with the rest of the brain.”

The left prefrontal cortex is what ‘remembers’ goals and instructions, and plays an integral part of fluid intelligence and cognitive control. While there is still much to learn about these neural connections, this study can give direction to researchers. 

What could this mean?

Many disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ADHD have been related to dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex, and other studies have indicated that reduced volume and interconnections of the frontal lobes with other brain regions can be seen in suicide victims, criminals, sociopaths, and drug addicts.

This will influence research into treatment of the many diseases linked to the prefrontal cortex, and may help us to understand exactly what is happening physiologically. 

While treatment and eventual removal of these diseases would be a blessing to our society, I feel it is important to question the possible misuse of such technology. Would it be wrong to screen children for possible problems before birth? Could this lead to genetic alteration of children while still in the womb, like what we have seen in Gattaca?

Do you think there are any negative sides to this research? Leave your opinion in the comment section!

Want to take part in exciting research while earning your degree? Check out our list of Research-Intensive Universities

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