Tuesday, July 3, 2007



50 : 50

Exactly what is human intelligence & how should we measure it?
Intelligence is a very difficult concept to define, it is described as the "power of the mind to think in a logical manner & acquire knowledge."

Is intelligence inherited? It is generally accepted that intelligence is inherited but can also be related to the environment.

Genetic control: A degree of intelligence is written in the genes & determined before birth. It suggests that the ability to do well in the intelligence tests is linked with the amount of grey matter in the brain, something that depends largely on genes. Studies showed that the grey matter volume is strongly determined by genes and reflected cognitive performance. It was also suggested that there is a strong genetic influence on IQ , so our genes determine the quality of our intelligence, our ability to integrate & process the information. The level of our intelligence determines how well we cope with changes in our environment. The genetic brain maps reveal a strong relationship among: genes, brain structure & behaviour, suggesting that highly heritable aspects of brain structure may be fundamental in determining individual differences in cognition.

Biological basis: Scientists have long suspected that grey matter is the seat of intelligence in the brain. Finally a correlation between: grey matter density & general cognitive ability provides evidence for a biological basis for it (IQ). A component of our problem solving ability is inherited, but its only very minimal of the variation in that trait, which means to say that the effects of nurture of learning-the non genetic factors, have tremendous importance in building brain structure, intelligence & performance in tests.

Your brain, your nervous system - your entire body is constructed according to instructions received from the genes that you have inherited from your parents. However, the ability to speak a certain language is not inherited, but is dependent on the language that the child hears on a daily basis! In the same way, intelligence might be dependent on the child's environment & specifically the quality & quantity of education that one receives. Whether nature or nurture influences intelligence remains a matter of debate between: geneticists & environmentalists & sits at about 50/50.


There are certainly ways to increase one's intelligence also called, intelligence amplification/enhancing, by practicing many proven cognitive tools such as mnemonics, problem solving techniques, creative techniques etc.

Some intelligence boosters are listed below -

Good reasoning is the key to success-if performed in the proper order.

1. have an objective
2. make a general sensing about it
3. determine your decision
4. make alternate plan
5. select the best plan
6. start by carrying out your plan
7. observe results
8. store experience.
(You cannot learn swimming from a book & you cannot learn to think without practicing)


It is now established that the traditional view that the brain cells are not added after birth is wrong. New neurons form from stem cells throughout life in two areas - the olfactory bulb & hippocampus. Since the hippocampus is concerned with memory, the memories could be related to new brain cells. During the first few weeks, months perhaps even year or so of life, many parts of the brain produce a great excess of neurons & the neurons send out numerous axon branches to make connections with other neurons. If the new fails to connect with appropriate subsequent neurons, muscle cells or gland cells, the new axon themselves will dissolute within a few weeks. The number of neural connections is determined by specific nerve growth factors released retrogradely from the stimulated cells. Furthermore when insufficient connectivity occurs, the entire neuron that is sending out the axon branches might eventually disappear.

Physiologically memories are stored in the brain by changing the basic sensitivity of synaptic transmission between: neurons, as a result of previous neural activity. The new or facilitated pathways are called memory traces in the cerebral cortex. Electron microscopic pictures have demonstrated multiple structural changes in many synapses during development of long-term memory traces. The most important structural changes are:

1.increase in no. of transmitter vesicle
2.increase in vesicle release sites for secretion of transmitter substance
3.increase in no. of presynaptic terminals


Human being is not merely a slave to his genes. Human life can be compared to a game of cards. At birth, every person is dealt a hand of cards-his genetic make-up. Some receive a good hand, others a less good one. Success in any game, however is almost always a matter of erudition. It is undeniably, there are innate qualities that will give one person an advantage over other in a specific game. However without having learnt the game, and without regular & rigorous practice, nobody will ever become a champion at any game. In the same way, the life is not determined by the quality of a persons initial hand of cards (genetic make-up), but also by the way in which he takes part in the game of life. It will be determined to a very large extent by the child's environment & specifically the quality & quantity of education that he has enjoyed.
(Published by dr.r.vinodha in APTCON 09-3rd Annual state conference)

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