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August 01, 2003

Mouse 'g' Discovered

Nature Science Update reports:

Some mice are cleverer than others, say US neuroscientists. Their rodent equivalent of an IQ test might fuel the controversial pursuit for genes linked to human intelligence.

Scientists have long used a factor called general intelligence or 'g' to rate people's brainpower. The measure spans verbal, logical and mathematical tasks - so a person with a big 'g' tends to score highly in all intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, and do well in school and work.

Mice have a version of 'g', according to a team led by Louis Matzel of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. Animals that come top in one learning test often score better on others, they found . . .

Matzel's results imply that some mice have a general learning ability rather than, say, just being good at navigating or discriminating. This factor seems to underpin around 40% of the difference in task performance between individual mice, Matzel's team found.

Human 'g' also accounts for about 40% of variation in intelligence tests. "It's a terrifically important paper," says Robert Plomin, who studies intelligence at King's College, London. "It's by far the most stringent test of the hypothesis that you can find 'g' in mice." . . .

This discovery should have important implications for research like Tsien's. What also caught my eye about this article was the nice big ad for Jensen's magisterial The 'g' Factor placed in the lower right-hand corner.

Posted by Jason Malloy at 08:20 PM

Interesting. But I keep thinking that low g genes must carry some advantage since they are prevalent in all populations.

Posted by: martin at August 4, 2003 08:19 AM

well, more like high g genes have downsides.

Posted by: razib at August 4, 2003 05:05 PM