From Science Daily:

Scientists have long agreed that we humans are a complex combination of our inherited traits and the environments in which we are raised. How the scales tip in one direction or the other, however, is still the subject of much debate.

To better understand the nature versus nurture question, UC Santa Barbara psychologist John Protzko analyzed an existing study to determine whether and how environmental interventions impacted the intelligence levels of low birth weight children.

The key finding: Interventions did raise intelligence levels, but not permanently. When the interventions ended, their effects diminished over time in what psychologists describe as “the fadeout effect.” The research is highlighted in the journal Intelligence.

“Certain environmental interventions can raise general intelligence,” said Protzko, a postdoctoral scholar in the META (Memory, Emotion, Thought, Awareness) Lab in UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. “It’s not just pushing scores around on a test; it’s deep changes to underlying general intelligence. The fadeout effect, however, applies the same way.” Scientists make a distinction between IQ scores, a quantitative measure of intelligence, and general intelligence, which reflects underlying cognitive abilities.

Protzko reviewed the results of the Infant Health and Development Program involving 985 children, all of whom experienced an intense and cognitively demanding environment during the first three years of their lives. Three main interventions had been employed to ameliorate the negative effects of being born at low birth weight.

At age 3, the children were given the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales as a baseline measure of their…

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