Studies Show You May Get Your Intelligence From Your Mother

Thanks, mom!

Historically, it’s been believed that both parents—mother and father—pass along their intelligence-related genes to their children. However, research featured in Psychology Spot is claiming that children get their smarts from their mothers.

But why? Women carry two X chromosomes, and X chromosomes house the genes that are linked to intelligence. Because of this, the publication states that children are two times more likely to obtain intelligence genes from their mother.


“At the basis of this idea there are those known as ‘conditioned genes,’ that behave differently depending on their origin. Basically, these genes have a kind of biochemical tag which allows to trace [sic] the origin and reveals even if they are active or not within the progeny cells,” Psychology Spot states.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Keith Whitt confirms, “The Y chromosome in XY men has about a hundred genes, none of which seem to be involved with cognition—thinking, figuring, planning…The X chromosome has a thousand genes, and a bunch of them influence cognition.”


So in boys, the father passes along the Y chromosome and the mother passes along the X. But what about when a father passes along his X chromosome to his daughter? The duplicate gene intelligence will be suppressed. Psychology Spot states, “If that same gene is inherited from the father, it is deactivated.” Likewise, some duplicate traits from a mothers’ genes may be suppressed by a father’s genome.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the environment in which a child grows up also plays a factor in long-term learning, thinking and cognitive function. Scientific American reports that genetics only can be attributed to about 50 percent of genetic differences, leaving a strong case for environmental and external influencers.

For example, if a child possesses a wildly high IQ, but falls ill with a serious disease, it can hamper their growth and development. Likewise, if a child has an extremely high IQ, but does not receive nurturing, coaching and supportive education from its parents, he or she may fall behind.


So if you consider yourself to be a smart cookie, go ahead and thank your mom. And if you’re a woman looking for a Y chromosome contributor, remember that the smarts can come from within.

[h/t: Good Housekeeping]