Intelligence Is Not Inherited Only From Mothers

“Note: A correction was made directly in this story at the request
of an independent fact checker for Facebook”

There have been plenty of inaccurate articles circulating round the social media that had claimed that the intelligence passes from mother to child.

According to these false claims, we inherit a large part of our mother’s intelligence because of the feminine X chromosome. That is absurd because it can pass down from both parents. The mother always contributes an X chromosome and the father contributes either a Y chromosome or an X chromosome.

What Are the Roles of the X & Y Chromosomes?

Chromosomes are thread-like formations containing protein and nucleic acids and their role is to transfer genetic data. We all have one pair of chromosomes in every cell. Females have two X chromosomes whereas males have one X and another Y chromosome. When we talk about conditioned genes, we refer to the gender-specific ones.

The genetic property of these genes activates or deactivates upon a specific selection and then the genetic characteristics are being influenced. The conditioned genes also have a so-called tagging system that is made of biochemical material. This system allows for two important things, i.e. detecting the point of origin of the gene and determining an activated or deactivated state in the body.

We Do Not Inherit Intelligence only from Mothers

These claims suggesting that a mother’s intelligence affects the child’s intelligence, it is considered that the gene from the mother for intelligence may even cancel that of the father. If this gene is inherited from fathers, it is deactivated. Moreover, in a Scotish study done with interviews of 12,686 people from the ages of 14 to 22, it was concluded that the major predicator for their intelligence was their mothers’ intelligence.

However, this does not mean that the mother’s influence is the only one when it comes to our IQ because intelligence is created by numerous other factors, not just genetics. As KQED point out, newest studies on intelligence genetics suggests that thousands of genes spread across our DNA and they are passed on to us by both parents and thus, influence our IQ.

The argument for mother’s effect on children’s IQ is based on older research suggesting that a lot of intelligence genes are on the X chromosome. Biological males have one X and one Y whereas females have two Xs.

But, sons can only receive an X from mothers and the Y must come from fathers. So, boys  receive intelligence from mothers. Even if this is the case, daughters would have a mixture of both parents’ IQ genes as males give X to their female children.

Moreover, latest research did not discover genes that have a major influence on intelligence despite studies emphasizing that half of our intelligence is inherited. Remember, the environment also plays a role in the child’s IQ, particularly in the first 5 years of life.

One thing is for sure- mothers influence the cognition capacity of their children. However, it is not just genetics that plays a role- a child’s diet is also pivotal for their intellectual growth.

What’s more, a unique connection between a child and his/her mother is an important stimulant for the child’s exploration of the world and problem-solving skills. Anyway, both parents contribute equally for the children’s intellectual growth from numerous different aspects, including their brain power.


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