Skip to comments.U of A[lberta] researcher questions whether genius might be a result of hormonal influences
Posted on 03/11/2011 10:38:44 AM PST by Pharmboy
U of A researcher questions whether genius might be a result of hormonal influences
A longstanding debate as to whether genius is a byproduct of good genes or good environment has an upstart challenger that may take the discussion in an entirely new direction. University of Alberta researcher Marty Mrazik says being bright may be due to an excess level of a natural hormone.
Mrazik, a professor in the Faculty of Education's educational psychology department, and a colleague from Rider University in the U.S., have published a paper in Roeper Review linking giftedness (having an IQ score of 130 or higher) to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone. Mrazik hypothesizes that, in the same way that physical and cognitive deficiencies can be developed in utero, so, too, could similar exposure to this naturally occurring chemical result in giftedness.
"There seems to be some evidence that excessive prenatal exposure to testosterone facilitates increased connections in the brain, especially in the right prefrontal cortex," said Mrazik. "That's why we see some intellectually gifted people with distinct personality characteristics that you don't see in the normal population."
Mrazik's notion came from observations made during clinical assessments of gifted individuals. He and his fellow researcher observed some specific traits among the subjects. This finding stimulated a conversation on the role of early development in setting the foundation for giftedness.
"It gave us some interesting ideas that there could be more to this notion of genius being predetermined from a biological perspective than maybe people gave it credit for," said Mrazik. "It seemed that the bulk of evidence from new technologies (such as Functional MRI scans) tell us that there's a little bit more going on than a genetic versus environmental interaction."
Based on their observations, the researchers made the hypothesis that this hormonal "glitch" in the in-utero neurobiological development means that gifted children are born with an affinity for certain areas such as the arts, math or science. Mrazik cautions that more research is needed to determine what exact processes may cause the development of the gifted brain.
He notes that more is known about what derails the brain's normal development, thus charting what makes gifted people gifted is very much a new frontier. Mrazik hopes that devices such as the Functional MRI scanner will give them a deeper understanding of the role of neurobiology in the development of the gifted brain.
"It's really hard to say what does put the brain in a pathway where it's going to be much more precocious," he said. "The next steps in this research lay in finding out what exact stimuli causes this atypical brain development."
Pinging you FR geniuses...
I know when I look at your stereotypical geniuses (Bill Gates, “Big Bang Theory,” “The Social Network,” etc.,), the first thing I think is: Yup, we’re just too damned manly.
Infants in the uterus are remarkable things. Surgery done in the uterus doesn't leave a scar. It just leaves a little red mark the body because those little things heal so fast and so perfectly.
If this study is correct, the genius would show up more on the male side rather than the female side. It would take a lot more testosterone to damage the female brain. They have very little of their own to start with.
I disagree with their theory.
While hormones are part of the process, they are not the ultimate director of such processes.
The terms ‘genius’ and ‘very bright’ are not exactly measurable quantities, and not necessarily the same thing.
It is my belief, based on looking around me, that those who are tagged as ‘genius’, usually are deficient in other areas (mentally).
They either have a physical reason to focus (Steven Hawking) all their mental abilities into one channel, or they achieve focus in one area, by not using it in any other area (absent-minded professor, weirdo geek, etc)
Then there are those who are autistic. Very bright, highly non-functional in society. The cause is a toss up, but the methodology is the same. The mind concentrates it’s power in a limited area permanently, by abandoning others.
There are plenty of highly intelligent (say...based on MENSA scores) ‘normal’ people out there, who COULD be ‘geniuses’ if they focused all their attention to one thing, at the expense of the others. But, they don’t.
To conclude, Hormones may be an ingredient of the ‘cause’, but it is only one among many.
Score numbers mean nothing. Standard deviation and percentile are the metrics. This seems like an opportunity to burn research money and publish only.
This demonstrates to me that these people don't have a clue.
Score numbers mean nothing.
Standard deviation and percentile are the metrics.
This seems like an opportunity to burn research money and publish only.
I can answer this in the other direction. Sometimes when observing the effects of female hormones I get a little stupid.
Little known is that Einstein’s mom was the bearded lady in a circus.
I agree with your observations.
HAHAHA...you and me both, friend...
Nice one...for this guy to try and ascribe something as complex and obviously multigenic as human intelligence to one factor is just plain...silly.
Indeed...but the power to concentrate and focus is undoubtedly (largely) genetic.
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I dunno...kick her in the shins?
To test how much exposure you had to testosterone in utero you can look at the length of your fingers (true for men, not sure for women). If the ring finger is longer than the index finger then you got a lot of testosterone. If the index finger is longer you were lacking. Strange but true.
That would create 'her moans', not hormones eh?
That really does tie it together. My son (who has a long ring finger) got a perfect score on the English portion of his SAT and >700 on the math.
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