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There is an excellent new paper by Dr. Alex Fornito, et.al., and here is the punchline:

How well our brain functions is largely based on our family’s genetic makeup, according to a University of Melbourne led study.

The study published in the international publication The Journal of Neuroscience provides the first evidence of a genetic effect on how ‘cost-efficient’ our brain network wiring is, shedding light on some of the brain’s make up.

Lead author Dr. Alex Fornito from the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre at the University of Melbourne said the findings have important implications for understanding why some people are better able to perform certain tasks than others and the genetic basis of mental illnesses and some neurological diseases.

“The brain tries to maximize its bang-for-buck by striking a balance between making more connections to promote efficient communication and minimising the “cost” or amount of wiring required to make these connections. Our findings indicate that this balance, called ‘cost-efficiency’, has a strong genetic basis.”

“Ultimately, this research may help us uncover which specific genes are important in explaining differences in cognitive abilities, risk for mental illness and neurological diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, leading to new gene-based therapies for these disorders.”

“We found that people differed greatly in terms of how cost-efficient the functioning of their brain networks were, and that over half of these differences could be explained by genes,” said Dr. Fornito.

Across the entire brain, more than half (60%) of the differences between people could be explained by genes. Some of the strongest effects were observed for regions of the prefrontal cortex which play a vital role in planning, strategic thinking, decision-making and memory.

Here is one popular summary of the results.  I interpret the finding to suggest some mix of a) genetics is more important than we think (when we think we are measuring the importance of IQ), and b) there are some smart people, smarter than we often think they are, and they pick and choose their mates.

For the pointer I thank my clear-eyed powers of observation.

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Maybe the Cheap Chalupas guy should read and post about these types of studies. He likes to posture as a well-read man, after all. Or would that be too emotionally painful?

Economists and liberatarians work to make economic theory fit human nature as they see it. What they fear most is that human nature will not bend to fit economic theory. And so they ignore human nature. Or whitewash it. Or demonize it. And they look sillier and sillier by the year…

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