Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

A new study will be published tomorrow revealing that, on average, human brains mature later in those people who have the greatest intelligence. This research was done using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize the regions of children’s brains as they matured (example of an MRI pictured, right. Source linked from image). The scientists’ data show that the outer portion of the brain, the cortex — or the thinking part of the brain — thickens and then thins during early childhood years, when the children were approximately 6 years old. However, they found that kids with greater intelligence show these same changes later than those with average intelligence — some as late as 11 years of age.

How might this slowed pattern of brain development contribute to increased intelligence? This delay may promote higher intelligence because it means a child is older and is therefore processing more complex experiences while the cortex is still maturing, said study co-author Judith Rapoport. By mapping out the precise details of normal brain development in humans, this research could help scientists and doctors to understand how brain disorders develop. Results appear in tomorrow’s issue of the top-tier journal, Nature.

Thanks, Christine!


  1. #1 Jonathon Weber
    March 29, 2006

    Not having read the article yet (well later tonight), I wonder if the older children in this study had a higher growth number for glia cells.

  2. #2 biosparite
    March 29, 2006

    Since my ex-wife claimed that I suffer from extended adolescense, does this in turn constitute evidence of my being really, really smart?

  3. #3 Spotted Quoll
    March 30, 2006

    I have always thought that bigger brains take longer to learn how to drive.

  4. #4 Katie
    March 30, 2006

    I really enjoyed this post. Looks like being a “late bloomer” is a good thing in certain aspects!

  5. #5 tigtog
    March 30, 2006

    Anything in the article about high-functioning autism? I know HFA and Aspergers individuals develop certain cognitive sets later than their peers, especially those to do with socialisation and abstracted language.

    Could this delayed cortical maturation be part of the explanation for the over-preponderance of HFA/Aspies in fields perceived as intelligentsia – academia/IT etc?

  6. #6 Anonym
    July 11, 2006

    I’m not very sure for what kind of mature the researches are talking about?!For instance an introvert looks like is more mature than an extrovert.

    Thnx for understanding !

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