The Other I

July 10, 2010

It’s hard to be sick and smart at the same time

Filed under: Intriguing Science — theotheri @ 9:10 pm

Stephen Hawking is occasionally seen on the side walks of Cambridge in his wheel chair.  Nobody thinks that because he’s been in a wheel chair and needs assistance even to speak that he isn’t a genius.

In fact, until recently, nobody has done any extensive research into disease and intelligence at all.

But now scientists have found a strong correlation between the level of disease in a country and general levels of intelligence.  Some of the worst effects seem to come from pathogens and parasites like worms that live in the gut,  or that cause diarrhoea because they deprive the host of the energy the brain needs first to develop and then to function.   The brain of a newly-born child requires 87% of its nutrition to develop normally.  Even the brain of fully mature adults uses 25% of our energy.

That’s the bad news, but hidden inside is a kernel of hope.  Eliminating disease  seems to be an immensely effective way of making us smarter.


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