Most of us generally assume that intelligence is inherited from both parents. But that’s not quite the case. There’s only one parent who gets the credit and that is – drum roll please – mom!
Through extensive study, we now know that intelligence is passed on through ‘conditioned genes.’ These particular conditioned genes live in chromosome X – which women contain two of.
But wait – what exactly are conditioned genes and why do they matter? The answer, coming right up!
Intelligence & Conditioned Genes
Conditioned genes behave differently depending on which parent they come from.
German researchers pioneered this concept back in 1984. Robert Lehrke continued to study it in more recent years. He found that genes from dad go to the limbic system, while mom’s head straight for the cerebral cortex.
Both are areas in the brain but they do very different things. The limbic system deals with emotion, instinct and mood. The cerebral cortex handles intelligence.
In other words, when mother passes on genes associated with high intelligence, they’ll wind up right where they need to be. If dad passes on those same genes – remember, men have one X chromosome – they’ll never make it to the area that needs them.
Because of these findings, psychologists now say the best predictor of a child’s intelligence is their mother’s IQ.
Just take a moment to appreciate how ironic this discovery is. For much of human history, we’ve ascribed intelligence to men, while attributing emotions to women. These findings prove that the exact opposite is true, as far as genetic development goes.
Moms, while this definitely gives you some bragging rights, don’t get too excited. Psychologists estimate genes account for just 40% to 60% of intelligence. The rest depends on environment and parenting styles – which both parents are a part of.
Consider your initial contribution more of a running start than a golden ticket.
Interestingly enough, dads, research shows that after your child is born, you have a much greater impact on their intelligence. Children who spend more time with their fathers wind up with higher IQ levels.
You can read more about that in this post.