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Genius IQ linked to pre-birth hormonal exposure

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Genius and testosterone

Gifted individuals, specifically geniuses with an IQ score of 130 or higher, may be especially precocious from exposure to the hormone testosterone prior to birth. University of Alberta researcher Marty Mrazik notes there has been some debate about what makes a genius, but it may be it's neither genes or a good environment.

Genius personality distinct

"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 says he observed traits among individuals with higher IQ scores that aren't seen in the general population, leading him to speculate genius is biologically predetermined.

He says, “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."

Though more research is needed to understand brain processes, the scientists hypothesize hormonal "glitches" during fetal development may explain why some individuals are born with an affinity for arts, math or science.

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“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.”

Mrazik says he hopes technology like Functional MRI scanners can facilitate understanding the neurobiology that underlies why some individuals have genius IQ scores that doesn't seem to be simply a matter of genes and environment.

The authors write, "Case studies of extremely gifted individuals often reveal unique patterns of intellectual precocity and associated abnormalities in development and behavior", leading them to suspect something else underlies the making of a genius.

The scientists have published a paper in the Roeper Review linking higher in utero exposure to the hormone testosterone to genius IQ.

Roeper Review
"The Neurobiological Foundations of Giftedness
Martin Mrazik; Stefan C. Dombrowsk
DOI: 10.1080/02783193.2010.508154

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