Scientists at the Imperial College London have claimed to have discovered the intelligence gene.
A study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reveals that a research team has discovered two networks of genes, known as M1 and M3, one with roughly 1,000 genes, the other with more than a 100. It is thought that these two networks are controlled by a master regulatory system that lies behind lateral thinking, mental arithmetic, pub quizzes, strategic planning, cryptic crosswords and the ability to laugh at limericks.
The discovery of these networks paths the way to future manipulation that could potentially boost brain power. Dr Michael Johnson, lead author of the study from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College, said: “Our research suggests that it might be possible to work with these genes to modify intelligence, but that is only a theoretical possibility at the moment–we have just taken a first step along that road.”
Johnson compared the networks to a football team, saying “traits such as intelligence are governed by large groups of genes working together – like a football team made up of players in different position,” he said.
Although there are genes, or players, more important than some others, it doesn’t help to focus on just one: The strategy of the entire team needs to be taken into account. When all the players are in the right positions, the brain appears to function optimally, leading to clarity of thought and what we think of as sharpness or cleverness.
“This research highlights some of the genes involved in human intelligence and how they interact with each other. What’s exciting about this is that the genes we have found are likely to share a common regulation, which means that potentially we can manipulate a whole set of genes whose activity is linked to human intelligence.”
“Eventually we hope that this sort of analysis will provide new insights into better treatments for neurodevelopmental disease such as epilepsy, and ameliorate or treat the cognitive impairments associated with these devastating diseases”, Johnson said.
Armed with this new information, scientists believe that they will be able to devise ways to modify human intelligence in the future.