Genes, not environment, are important in determining intelligence quotient of chimpanzees, Georgia State University researchers find.
The role of genes in human intelligence has been the subject of several research papers. In humans, environmental factors such as education, socioeconomic status are known to affect intelligence quotient.
The latest study shows that in chimpanzee, which is closely related to human, genes play a far more important role than the environment. Simply put: when it comes to chimps, smartness runs in the family!
"Chimps offer a really simple way of thinking about how genes might influence intelligence without, in essence, the baggage of these other mechanisms that are confounded with genes in research on human intelligence," Dr. William Hopkins, professor in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State, said in a news release.
The study was based on data from 99 chimpanzees who were aged between 9 and 54 years. The subjects were given 13 cognitive tasks. Researchers used genetic analysis to find whether or not cognitive skills were inherited.
Researchers found that genes played an important role in some, but not all, aspects of cognitive abilities.
"The team also found similarities in structure of intelligence between chimpanzees and humans. We wanted to see if we gave a sample of chimpanzees a large array of tasks," he said, "would we find essentially some organization in their abilities that made sense. The bottom line is that chimp intelligence looks somewhat like the structure of human intelligence."
In the next part of the study, researchers plan to include more subjects and look at how genes are linked to variation in brain organization.
The study is published in the journal Current Biology.
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