Can Epigenetics Make Us Smarter?

by Scott Morrice on 04/09/2012

In my Why Is Epigenetics Important?  post I wrote that our new understanding of epigenetic mechanisms opens the door to allowing us to use them in a very proactive way to actually enhance our lives. But can epigenetics make us smarter?

According to Bruce Lipton’s book The Biology of Belief, we now know that environmental influences such as nutrition, stress and emotions can modify genes without changing their basic blueprint. And we also know that those modifications can be passed on to our future generations.

Knowing that stress, emotions and nutrition affect our genes means that we can, and should, take steps to avoid those “inputs” to the extent that we can. Now it is obviously much easier to write those words than to live them, but certainly we know the opportunity is there.

But those are steps we take to avoid a certain outcome.What about going further and taking steps, not just to avoid, or to even enhance an outcome, like our health, but to create an outcome—such as increased intelligence???!!!!

In his post Epigenesis: The New Biology – Part II, Dr. Lee Pulos writes that apparently this is possible! A Stanford University psychologist has provided compelling evidence that through the use of visualization and belief modification we can actually increase our intelligence.

Of interest to most of us, is it possible to raise our intelligence and/or intellectual performance? Stanford University psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck noticed that students had varying beliefs about the nature of intelligence, and how it had an effect on their performance. Some students believed that intelligence is a fixed measure, like the number of inches in your height. Others believed that intelligence can grow and develop or blossom, like a plant. Then she compared the math scores of the two groups over the following two years. She established that students who believed that intelligence can grow had increasing math scores. The math scores of those who believed that intelligence is fixed – decreased.

Dr. Dweck then wondered – if students were given a ‘growth’ mindset, how to perceive intelligence as growing or expanding with experience, would this benefit their grades? She took one hundred seventh graders who were all performing poorly in math and divided them randomly into two groups. The first group received instruction in good study skills. The second group was told our brains grow and form new and denser neural connections when confronted with novelty and challenge. At the end of the semester, those students who had received the mini-course in brain development had significantly better grades than the other group.

And remember, according to Dr. Lipton, those modifications can be passed on to our future generations!

And if we can modify our intelligence through the use of visualization, what else is possible? I would suggest that the implications of all of this are extremely exciting!

I’ll keep you posted.

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