Mom genes: New research says intelligence is inherited from mothers

Women's genes are responsible for cognitive function in kids, like thought and language. John Rowley / Mood Board / Rex Features

Researchers have given us another reason to say, “thanks, mom.” According to recent findings, intelligence is passed on to kids by mothers, and not both parents as previously believed.

Psychologist Jennifer Delgado wrote a blog post for Psychology Spot stating that intelligence genes originate from the X chromosome, of which women have two (men are made up of XY).

“At the basis of this idea are ‘conditioned genes’ that behave differently depending on their origin,” she writes. “Some of these affected genes work only if they come from the mother. If that same gene is inherited from the father, it is deactivated.”

That’s not to say that paternal genes don’t have any effect on intelligence, however. Further studies shown that a father’s genes accumulate in the limbic system of the brain, which is responsible for mood and instinct, and controls basic functions like sex, hunger and aggression. The mother’s cells, on the other hand, are in the cerebral cortex, where cognitive functions reside like memory, thought, perception and language.

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But genetics aren’t the only indicators of intelligence. A study out of the University of Minnesota found that children who developed a strong bond with their mothers early in life were able to play complex symbolic games as early as two years old, and persevered more and were less frustrated when troubles arose. Another study conducted at the University of Washington concluded that kids who had supportive and emotionally attentive mothers developed a larger hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for learning and stress response — than kids with emotionally distant mothers.

So, essentially, having mom genes just got infinitely cooler.

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