View Full Version : Some young brains just built for brightness

Wise Young
03-31-2006, 09:01 AM

Some young brains just built for brightness

By Deborah Smith Science Editor
March 30, 2006

BRAINY children do not have bigger brains than children of average intelligence, but the outer parts of their brains mature more rapidly, new research shows.

Understanding this link between brain structure and cleverness may lead to ways of enhancing IQ.

North American researchers tested more than 300 children, taking images of their brains between the ages of five and 19. They also divided them into three groups based on IQ tests.

At seven, the very smart children tended to have a relatively thin cerebral cortex, the outer part of the brain associated with memory, abstract reasoning and planning. This region then began to thicken rapidly, peaking at age 11 or 12.

By comparison, children in the lowest, average IQ bracket started out with a relatively thick cortex but it had peaked by age eight.

The leader of the research team, Philip Shaw, of the US National Institute of Mental Health, said this suggested the brightest children had more time for the brain circuits to develop that control higher thinking skills.

As the very brainy reached adolescence, the thickness of their cortex decreased rapidly. In the average IQ children, it thinned out gradually from the age of eight.