Education or genetics: what makes an intelligent child?

What makes an intelligent child? Is there a key to one person being smarter than another? There will be those who think not because intelligence is directly related to the genetic characteristics of the child. There will also be those who think that, as much, it will be possible to vary according to the role of parents in the education of their children and the way in which they encourage the development of their children's intelligence, through stimulation and other learning. .

But nevertheless, Scientific America offers an interesting theory that rElect the care of children with intelligence that they come to develop. This publication ensures that intelligence and care are directly related and, according to this hypothesis, our greater intellectual capacities are directly linked to another of the intrinsic characteristics of the human being: his greater helplessness when he is a baby.


The evolutionary explanation of intelligence

Scientific America refers to the hypothesis that Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in one of his studies in which they refer to the pressures that the human being has had throughout his evolution. In this sense, the first men had to face the problems of selection both for their large brains and for the ability to walk upright.

At this point, the larger brains needed a wider pelvis to give birth, at the same time the fact of being bipedal limited the size of this area of ​​the body. These opposing pressures may have meant that females were born prematurely, when babies' skulls are still small. That is, women gave birth to more defenseless and weak children since they arrived in the world before the pregnancy ended.


This is where the researchers of this study raise this theory: the increased demand for care of these pups imposed on the parents a new evolutionary pressure that forced the human being to develop a greater intelligence to meet all these needs that arose. This in turn led to the need for earlier births, and that led to children being born more defenseless, which required greater intellectual skills in adults.

Greater intelligence is related to defenseless babies

The theory proposed by this work is clear: a superior intelligence should be associated with defenseless newborns. For this reason they wanted to test this hypothesis in other primates to verify to what extent this maxim is related to other hominids.

In order to carry out this check, they were set at the weaning of the offspring of said species.


The results of this work proved that a later weaning was synonymous with primates that had demonstrated greater intelligence in previous studies. This study even ensures that the helplessness of newborns was a greater predictor of intelligence than the size of the brain. According to the authors, it is more important how this body is organized than its volume.

The opinion of other authors

As in all theory there are always authors who try to refute it. This hypothesis has not been the exception and there are several people who find it wrong. This is the case of the anthropologist Dean Falk who maintains that when the human being began to be biped it brought with it altered motor systems in the brain, which translated into a greater helplessness of newborns. Falk ensures that this occurred millions of years before our species developed its greater intelligence so there would be no direct relationship between them.

Another anthropologist like Wenda Trevathan of the State University of New Mexico says that this theory greatly simplifies the complexity of human evolution. However, this author has also recognized that the needs of a more intense upbringing in newborn infants in the long term had a great impact on how our species changed. Which according to Trevathan would explain to a large extent what we are today.

Damián Montero

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