What makes some people smarter than others? According to recent studies, the larger and faster a person’s brain cells are, the higher his/her IQ will be. In other words, smarter people posses bigger and faster brain cells than others.
Most of the research conducted to determine how the intelligence is forming and how it can be enhanced has identified brain regions involved in certain abilities or has identified hundreds of genes that play a very small role in determining the IQ.
To go one step further, Natalia Goriounova at the Free University of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, studied 35 people who needed surgery for brain tumors or were suffering from severe epilepsy.
Every subject took an IQ test just before undergoing a surgery. During the interventions, small samples of healthy brain tissues for the patients’ temporal lobes were collected and kept alive for analysis.
The temporal lobe is that area of the brain which helps us to “translate” what we see, recognize the language, and form memories and connections, all of which are involved in intelligence.
Smarter people have bigger and faster brain cells
Examination of the samples revealed that brain cells are significantly bigger in those people with higher IQ scores. Larger cells also have more and longer dendrites, projections that connect to other neurons, suggesting that neurons may be able to receive and process more information, under these circumstances.
“We have learned that there is some link between brain size and intelligence. The team has taken it to the individual neurons,” says Christof Koch from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, in Seattle.
The team also tested the neurons’ ability to transmit electrical signals by passing current through them, gradually increasing the frequency. The neurons of people with low IQ faced each other at low frequencies but became fatigued and slowed down as the frequency increased.
On the other hand, brain cells of people with higher IQ did not slowed down.
Using computer models of brain cell activity, the researchers predicted that neurons in people with low IQ send out signals more slowly, a suggestion that coincides with observations that people with higher IQs tend to have faster reaction times.
Therefore, the scientists concluded that intelligence is coming with bigger and faster brain cells.