Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chimp intelligence 'runs in families,' environment less important

Date:
July 10, 2014
Source:
Georgia State University
Summary:
A chimpanzee’s intelligence is largely determined by its genes, while environmental factors may be less important than scientists previously thought, according to a Georgia State University research study.

Credit: © tsepova / Fotolia

A chimpanzee's intelligence is largely determined by its genes, while environmental factors may be less important than scientists previously thought, according to a Georgia State University research study.

The study found that some, but not all, cognitive, or mental, abilities, in chimpanzees depend significantly on the genes they inherit. The findings are reported in the latest issue of Current Biology.

"Intelligence runs in families," said Dr. William Hopkins, professor in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State and research scientist in the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University. "The suggestion here is that genes play a really important role in their performance on tasks while non-genetic factors didn't seem to explain a lot. So that's new."

The role of genes in human intelligence or IQ has been studied for years, but Hopkins' study is among the first to address heritability in cognitive abilities in nonhuman primates. Studies have shown that human intelligence is inherited through genes, but social and environmental factors, such as formal education and socioeconomic status, also play a role and are somewhat confounded with genetic factors. Chimpanzees, which are highly intelligent and genetically similar to humans, do not have these additional socio-cultural influences.

"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," Hopkins said.

The study involved 99 chimpanzees, ranging in age from 9 to 54, who completed 13 cognitive tasks designed to test a variety of abilities. Hopkins used quantitative genetics analysis to link the degree of relatedness between the chimpanzees to their similarities or differences in performance on the various cognitive measures to determine whether cognitive performance is inherited in chimpanzees.

Genes were found to play a role in overall cognitive abilities, as well as the performance on tasks in several categories.

Traditionally, researchers studying animal intelligence or animal learning have shared the view that environment and how previous behavior is reinforced affect how animals perform on a particular task.

"In our case, at least, it suggests that purely environmental explanations don't really seem to tell the whole story," Hopkins said. "Genes matter as well."

Hopkins also studied the structure of chimpanzee intelligence to determine whether there were any similarities to the structure of human intelligence.

"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 future, Hopkins wants to continue the study with an expanded sample size. He would also like to pursue studies to determine which genes are involved in intelligence and various cognitive abilities as well as how genes are linked to variation in the organization of the brain.

Hopkins also would like to determine which genes changed in human evolution that allowed humans to have such advanced intelligence.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William D. Hopkins, Jamie L. Russell, Jennifer Schaeffer. Chimpanzee Intelligence Is Heritable. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.076

Cite This Page:

Georgia State University. "Chimp intelligence 'runs in families,' environment less important." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710130550.htm>.
Georgia State University. (2014, July 10). Chimp intelligence 'runs in families,' environment less important. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710130550.htm
Georgia State University. "Chimp intelligence 'runs in families,' environment less important." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710130550.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) — In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins