The opinion on intelligence being hereditary seems to be divided. Some believe it to be true while some do not.
According to the Genetics Home Reference, intelligence does actually transfer hereditary but there are other factors in the play too. Besides being genetically transferred, intelligence also depends upon environmental factors.
According to various studies, it was suggested and estimated that 50% of intelligence is hereditary, meaning, it transfers from parents to kids, and the rest is acquired and depends on factors such as parenting, nutrition, education, learning resources etc.
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There definitely is no concrete answer to this question. To understand it better and draw a conclusion, let’s have a look at the family line of the most important scientists.
Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160 but did his descendants had the same? Not all of them. In fact, none of them equalled to his excellence. Here’s where genetics and environmental factors along with nurturing come into play.
The first reason that genetics didn’t span out much for the Einstein family is because kids inherit intelligence as a result of both their parent’s IQ.
Mileva Maric, who was a wife to Einstein and mother of her kids didn’t have an IQ even close to that of her husband. However, she was a skilled mathematician and had contributed a lot in Einstein’s works.
So, the kids inherited a combination of genes from both the mother and the father which is why they couldn’t match up to their father’s IQ.
Another problem that hit the Einstein family hard was health conditions. Einstein had three kids. Lieserl was the youngest but not much can be spoken about her intelligence because she passed away when she was only one.
Eduard looked promising as he was doing good as a medical student but soon got hit with schizophrenia and was admitted to different mental institutions for a large part of his life. This, obviously, deeply decreased his cognitive abilities.
Hans Albert Einstein, one of this most famous children, grew up to be successful. He got appointed as a teacher at UC Berkeley and was also considered as a pioneer in the field of sediment transport. However, his kids couldn’t do much except for one.
Hans had four children but three of them couldn’t make it to adulthood. Bernhard, who was the only one to reach adulthood, worked hard and became a physicist with many patents under his name.
Seeing the family line of Einstein, it’s quite clear that none of the descendants were on the same mental level as Einstein himself. While there can be many reasons for this, many believe that this happened because they weren’t nurtured in a good way, which indicates to how genes are not the only factor that determine intelligence. Nonetheless, based on this and other similar examples, it can be concluded that genes do play an important role in a person’s intelligence as all of Einstein’s descendants that reached adulthood made a name for themselves, albeit not as big as Einstein’s.
Some people believe that IQ decreases after 20 years of age while some say that it increases after 20. Who should we trust? Both of the scenarios are right:
Experts say that childhood is the best time to learn new things and increase intelligence. This is because around this time, the mind is an empty canvas waiting to be filled. So, the way a child is brought up, introduced to knowledge, studies and environment plays a vital role in building their intelligence.
It should be remembered that IQ is not a single quantity, it is a collection of different factors. A lot of traits add up to produce an IQ score of a person. Now, as a person ages, some of these traits or abilities increase while some decreases.
As per a study, you can change your verbal and numerical abilities after you hit 20 but up to the age of 50. On the other hand, perceptual speed, spatial orientation and inductive reasoning tend to decline when a person reaches 25 years of age. From this study, it can be concluded that you can change your IQ by gaining more knowledge and experience, but age plays a very important role in this regard.
Other than this, environment is another factor that can change people’s IQ. If we go back into the past, the average IQ of a 20 year old was less compared to the 20 year old of 2002.
Between these years, there was a 18 point increase in the average IQ of a person. This shows just how the environment can impact a person’s score. There were many new inventions and upgrades introduced in the last few decades and they all helped give people’s intelligence a boost. But, again, opinion on this is divided as many people that dependence on technology causes people to become less intelligent.
Various studies say that school also plays a vital role in changing a person’s IQ. This is done by teaching the value of taxonomization to kids which is basically to group things in a systematic way and find better ways of understanding things with their own mind. Flynn effect can be studied to understand this better.
For example, some studies showed how the intelligence of a taxi driver changes with time, from when they got into the business to being in the business for a few years.
They memorize the maps and make use of their navigational trait a lot more, hence the change. Similarly, the brain of a juggler is also said to show changes due to making efforts at improving focus and concentration.
Looking into the future, the average IQ of people is to rise again because the environment is yet again changing and we already have examples before us in the form of technology, smart minds etc.
So, yes. The IQ can be changed with time but it requires the person to change their environment, put in extra effort and go beyond the horizon of what they’re capable of doing.
We pretty much answered this question in the above portion. To sum it up, IQ can indeed be improved by adapting to a number of practices, bringing changes in the behavior etc.
Here’s some concrete ways to improve your IQ:
Working out doesn’t just improve you physically but mentally as well. According to an article published in the “Issue of comprehensive physiology”, working out can have positive effects on the brain.
The components that enhance the functional regions of our brain improve and make us more cognitive capable. Simple exercises such as running, cycling, doing yoga can help improve IQ.
There are certain games that aid in improving the IQ of a person. Now, this activity doesn’t directly increase the IQ but a few abilities such as working memory and processing speed.
This is because getting involved in brain games works on certain parts of the brain and exercises them to produce more output.
Reading and playing an instrument is associated with improving cognitive abilities as per many researches.
This is because playing an instrument is a difficult activity and involves sensory and motor multi-tasking. Hence, a person learning to play an instrument is actually exercising their motor and sensory regions. Similarly, reading also helps improve the brain as we begin to grasp and remember more.
To sum it up, intelligence is hereditary to an extent but we can all improve our IQ levels by working hard and learning new things.