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Stats Science

Genes About a Quarter of the Secret To Staying Smart 77

ananyo writes "A Scottish intelligence study that began 80 years ago has borne new fruit. Researchers have tracked down the study's surviving participants — who joined the study when they were 11 years old — to estimate the role that our genes have in maintaining intelligence through to old age. After conducting fresh intelligence tests on the surviving participants, the researchers tested the DNA samples they had collected for the presence of more than half a million common genetic variants, each affecting only a single letter in the DNA sequence of the genome. The team then calculated whether these variants were associated with cognitive stability — how well intelligence had been maintained over time. The sample size of 2,000 people was too small to grant the statistical power needed to track down individual genetic signatures associated with cognitive stability. But it was enough to estimate how much genetics contributes to cognitive aging. The team found that these variants accounted for nearly one-quarter of the differences in cognitive stability."
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Genes About a Quarter of the Secret To Staying Smart

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  • So in other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:47PM (#38752694)

    It's not genetics but other factors, presumably mental exercise, diet, etc that contributes 75% to keeping your intelligence intact as you enter old age?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:55PM (#38752792)

    Useful for confirmation, but not new or unexpected. The /. history has articles about taxi driver training leading to neural restructuring in favor of mapping and geographical awareness. There are some mentally destructive conditions that we don't know how to prevent yet, but in general, you get good at what you do a lot. If you spend your time hauling heavy boxes, you will get stronger (until you hit a physical limit). If you spend your time solving puzzles, studying new scientific research, and practicing your 24 dimensional calculus, you will get better at those. If you spend all your time watching gossip shows on TV and sitting on the couch, you very well may become one with the couch, mentally and physically.

  • by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:58PM (#38752836)

    I'm sorry, it is not acceptable to attribute any intelligence to genetics, no matter what your evidence.

    In fact, the very idea of identifying a measure of "intelligence" and correlating it with outcomes is racist.

    This research must be purged. [/current state of intelligence debate]

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @05:43PM (#38753470) Homepage Journal
    My theory was that the other 3/4 was associate with not wasting time and grey matter watching inane, worthless, stupid reality shows on TV 24/7....and actually doing something with their minds into their old age.

    Of course..diet and exercise certainly had to have a lot to do with it too, I'd guess...

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.