smart monkeyVia EurekAlert:

Chimpanzee intelligence is largely determined by its genes, and environmental factors may be less important than previously thought.

“Intelligence runs in families,” said Dr. William Hopkins.

“The suggestion here is that genes play a really important role in their performance on tasks while non-genetic factors didn’t seem to explain a lot. So that’s new.”

“Studies have shown that human intelligence is inherited through genes, but social and environmental factors … are somewhat confounded with genetic factors. Chimpanzees, which are highly intelligent and genetically similar to humans, do not have these additional socio-cultural influences.”


enhancement-intelligenceInteresting perspective by Prof. James D. Miller (via Patheos) about how IQ enhancement is on the way, regardless of whether we want it or not:

“When you combine eugenics with likely advances in smart drugs, brain training, brain implants, and neurofeedback, the future will give us the capacity to reliably produce hyper-geniuses…”

“Even if the United States rejects eugenics for moral reasons, not all other countries will. There doesn’t exist a world body strong enough to stop eugenics. And a world in which Chinese, but only Chinese, eight-year-olds are regularly mastering calculus is one in which the United States will almost certainly embark on an anything goes effort to increase the IQ of its next generation…”

“Three tech titans: Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, and Larry Page have by their words, deeds, and donations shown that they believe in the plausibility of a singularity. Given these men’s skill at predicting and shaping technological trends, their authority makes a powerful argument for the likelihood of the singularity.”

exercise and iqThe links between exercise and IQ are well known.

But how much exercise is the “right” amount? According to a new study, about 20 minutes.

The researchers investigated which single-session exercise duration was the most beneficial in terms of boosting cognitive skills. A (somewhat small) group of 26 male subjects cycled at a moderate intensity level for bursts of 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 45 minutes. The subjects then took a Stroop test to evaluate their cognitive performance (for example, is the blue text or green text the color you’d expect it to be?)

Their results showed that “exercise at moderate intensity for 20 minutes resulted in significantly better cognitive performance as assessed by shorter response time and higher accuracy. This result was found regardless of the type of cognitive function assessed.”

They also found a curvilinear relationship between exercise duration and cognitive performance. In other words, the subjects actually performed worse at the cognitive tests after having exercised for 45 minutes.

So indeed, sometimes less is more.

james-flynnA new meta-analysis shows that the Flynn effect is still going strong, and thus hasn’t tapered off as is sometimes claimed.

The Flynn effect refers to the global increase in intelligence test scores since about 1930, with an average increase of between two and five IQ points per decade. The effect has been known to appear and disappear in various places at various times. In Denmark, Norway, and Australia, for example, some research suggests that the effect may have already stopped, whereas it is still proceeding apace in much of the developing world.

The possible reasons behind this long-term rise in IQ scores are many. Suggestions have included better nutrition, more widespread education, and changing approaches to test-taking. These discussions have been the subject of thousands of studies and many books, several written by the eponymous James R. Flynn himself.

The new meta-analysis, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, has taken a look at 285 studies dating back to 1951, so as to “determine the magnitude of the Flynn effect with a higher degree of precision.”

They found that the mean increase in IQ scores was 2.31 points per decade. When the studies were restricted to those conducted after 1972 using modern IQ tests (namely the Stanford-Binet and Wechsler tests), the increase amounted to 2.93 points per decade.

This rise, they conclude, “was comparable to previous estimates of about 3 points per decade but was not consistent with the hypothesis that the Flynn effect is diminishing.”

“These results supported previous estimates of the Flynn effect and its robustness across different age groups, measures, samples, and levels of performance.”

childhood-IQ-crimeA new study in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior shows that higher childhood IQ correlates with better development of self-control, which in turn correlates with lower rates of crime.

Self-control is “one of the most robust predictors of antisocial behavior … What remains more unclear, however, are the exact sources of individual differences in levels of self-control.”

Evidence is beginning to suggest that intelligence “may play an important role in predicting the development of self-control,” and that this process may begin at a very young age.

“Our findings suggest that higher levels of intelligence predict higher levels of self-control beyond other traditional criminological and sociological variables including parenting practices and parental levels of self-control. These findings further underscore the relevance of intellectual functioning for a host of impactful traits in humans.”