Two psychologists from Rutgers University who completed a review of the recent research on human intelligence concluded that a person’s environment plays a critical role in shaping their intelligence, and its effect is often underestimated.
“Environmental influences are much more powerful than many scientists believe,” researcher Bruno Sauce said. “The environment is the critical tool that allows our genetic equipment to prosper.”
They noted significant implications for the education system, particularly during the critical years of early childhood, when a stimulating environment has the power to affect an increase in a child’s intelligence.
“We go to impoverished high schools and try to remediate kids, which is a perfectly good thing to do. But it’s often too late; the time to reach those kids is when they start school, while their intelligence is most malleable,” researcher Louis Matzel explained.
A national survey of voters by Zero to Three and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation discovered that nine in 10 voters believe brain development in infants and toddlers is an important topic, and that society should support healthy emotional development in young children.
About half of respondents reported knowing little to nothing about early brain development, but most believe that early experiences can lead to long-term impacts later in life.
Read the full results at RWJF.org.
When infants and caregivers make eye contact, their brain activity falls into sync, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The shared gaze primes each brain to optimize information transfer during communication and learning.
The finding is “giving new insights into infants’ amazing abilities to connect to, and tune in with, their adult caregivers,” psychologist Victoria Leong said.