Children Inherit Their Intelligence From Their Mums, Not Their Dads

You often hear parents commenting on which parent their child resembles most, but when it comes to brains... sorry dads, that's all thanks to mum.

According to research, the cleverness of a child is determined by the mother's genes - the X chromosome is responsible for intelligence and women carry two of these. Men only carry one, alongside a Y chromosome.

So there's something to consider next time you're laughing at your mum for not knowing how to load up Netflix. Think on, eh?

This information has actually been around for a while - back in 1984 researchers at the University of Cambridge studied both the co-evolution of the brain and genomic conditioning, which is when the conclusion was first reached that maternal genes influenced the transfer of intelligence.

During the research, scientists used genetically modified mice to test different theories - a complex process which, you'll be shocked to learn, involved a lot of trial and error (and a fair few deceased lab mice along the way).

Child genius Laurent Simons with his mum and dad. Credit: PA
Child genius Laurent Simons with his mum and dad. Credit: PA

However, when they finally got the process right, they were able to produce mice with more maternal or paternal genes.

Interestingly, those mice that extra doses of maternal genes actually developed a bigger brain and head.

Conversely, the mice that were dosed with extra paternal genes developed bigger bodies but smaller heads.

Of course, this was 35 years ago, so in 2017 researchers at a government agency in Scotland followed a group of 12,686 people aged 14 to 22.

Every year the researchers would interview the study group and take note of intellectual development - while taking into consideration ways in which they differ, such as the education they received.

They found that the mum's IQ was the best way to predict the youngster's intelligence and came up with the same conclusion as the 1984 study.

So there you go - pretty interesting, eh?

Of course, there's also the age-old debate of nature over nurture - and a study from the University of Minnesota said a child's intellectual development is also affected by nurturing and nourishment.


The research found that children who develop a strong bond and attachment with their mothers tend to develop the ability to play complex symbolic games, and portray less frustration while going through points of difficult problem solving.

So you may have heard the phrase 'mum is always right' and weighed it up against all the times your own mother's been wrong. Still, looks like there's something in it.

Featured Image Credit: Fox / The Simpsons

Rachael Grealish

Rachael is a NCTJ qualified journalist from West Cumbria, with a passion for news, features and journalism. Outside of work Rachael loves plenty of coffee, running and reading.

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