Children get their intelligence from their mums – NO.

It is headline-grabbing but rather thin on the science. If I had published that as a research article, my supervisors would have slain me. Well, serious peer-reviewed journals wouldn’t have published it anyway. And who are the authors and affiliated institutions?

******

There is an article that is making its round on the social media circuit, namely that a new “study” shows that children get their intelligence from their mothers. Intelligence, apparently, is carried in the X-chromosomes, of which women have two (men have XY). This study was published in a psychology blog and the article is not peer-reviewed.

Even with my limited biology knowledge, I find this claim dubious. A person gets half their chromosomes from mum, and half from dad. Thus, one half of mum’s intelligence-dwelling X chromosomes came from HER DAD anyway! So this headline-grabbing article falls on the first logic test. And hey, even men do have an X-chromosomes, though admittedly, they do not pass this to their offspring.

Moreover, the DNA unravels and combines in the most magical way that we don’t yet know about – the way they splice, cut, repair, meld, sew up. And it is not the whole X-chromosome that is about intelligence, maybe just a variant within the gene. And I don’t think geneticists know which particular variant is responsible for ‘intelligence’.

We are also just beginning to know that the same DNA sequence can be read differently, depending on the chemical markers.

And what is intelligence? It is the complex relationships between neurons and synapses that allow for recollections, memory, analysis, logic. The ‘best’ grade neurons and synapses, if not trained to fire effectively, are as useless as electrical circuits without a power supply.

Sure, it is headline-grabbing. And as mentioned, I have limited but strong foundational knowledge in biology, but even to a layperson like me, it doesn’t sit right.

But what I know for a fact is that my children get their emotional intelligence from their father. “Intelligence” needs other factors to make it work, like providing the right environment for developing brains, teaching young children how to think, creating safety in the brain so that the right triggers are fired.

My children’s father has this intuitive way of making little people feel special. It’s as if he is a gardener, only that he grows his little children instead of flowers. And his garden blooms very well, because it is his life’s work. So maybe there is the intelligence there, to focus on the task (whatever it may be), be grounded in faith and following our inner wisdom instead of fad. To learn to be kind always, to laugh a lot, to take a balanced view on achievements and most importantly, to nurture others.

Perhaps this is a better definition of intelligence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s