Intelligence Is Inherited From The Mother: Father’s Genes Are Suppressed, But Do Make Difference In Child’s Intellect, Claims New Study

It is the mother’s genes that influence and determine a child’s intellect, suggests a new research. While the father’s genes are present within the children, they lie suppressed. Nonetheless, paternal genes do play a role in the intelligence of their children.

When it comes to intelligence, children take after their mother, according to the researchers at the University of Washington. It is the woman who is more likely to transmit genes that shape the child’s intelligence. Researchers supported their findings by noting that genes influencing intelligence are carried on the X chromosome, and women have two of these. Men, or fathers, have only a single X chromosome.


Similar research conducted in the past has corroborated the findings. However, the recently concluded study by researchers in Glasgow, Scotland, adds that genes responsible for advanced cognitive functions are inherited from the father’s side as well. But they are either automatically deactivated or remain suppressed.

Could children be made smarter, simply by activating these suppressed or deactivated genes? According to the scientists, a category of genes known as “conditioned genes” are thought to work only if they come from the mother in some cases, and the father in other cases, reported Stock News USA. However, intelligence is the one of the few conditioned genes that works only when it comes from the mother. In other words, even if the child does inherit the smartness genes from the father, they lie deactivated.

What does a child inherit from the father? While testing their hypothesis on rats, scientists discovered cells with paternal genes accumulated in parts of the limbic system. This part of the brain deals with much more primal and instinctive functions like sex, food, and aggression. The paternal genes were noticeably absent in the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain deals with evolved and advanced cognitive functions like reasoning, thought, language, and planning.


Essentially, genetically modified mice with an extra dose of maternal genes developed bigger brains and relatively smaller bodies. Meanwhile, the rats with an extra dose of paternal genes had small brains and larger bodies. This led scientists to conclude that brain development happens because of the mother’s genes, but how well a child’s body develops depends on the father’s genes.

To further corroborate their hypothesis, researchers interviewed 12,686 young people between the ages of 14 and 22 every year for two decades. Despite factoring in environmental factors, including race and socio-economic status, researchers were convinced that the best predictor of intelligence in the child was the IQ of the mother and not the father.

Incidentally, genetics are not the only determining factor in development of intelligence. According to previous research, only 40 to 60 percent of intelligence is hereditary, reported The Times of India. In other words, the environment in which the child grows up plays an equally important part in the development of advanced cognitive functions.


Though the surroundings may have a substantial impact on the child’s smartness, it is the deep emotional bond the child shares with his or her mother that largely influences the development of intelligence. The secure and intimate bond a child has with the mother is a large part of the “non-genetic” part of intelligence. While this might be common knowledge, researchers confirmed the theory scientifically by analyzing the way a group of mothers related to their children for seven years. Children who enjoyed a close bond with their mother had their intellectual needs fulfilled, and were supported emotionally, had a 10 percent larger hippocampus at the age of 13, as compared to those who had an emotionally distant mother.

While a mother’s love is crucial for her child’s mental and emotional development, the father’s role can’t be undermined. Devoted fathers help develop other important traits in their children like intuition and emotions. These components inherited from the father are crucial for an all-round development of intelligence, concluded the researchers.

[Featured Image by Adam Berry/Getty Images]