X Chromosome and Intelligence

Essay by oakleykdA+, April 2006

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"Science is not about building a body of known 'facts'. It is a method for asking awkward questions and subjecting them to a reality-check, thus avoiding the human tendency to believe whatever makes us feel good," reveals the English author, Terry Pratchett. Two articles explore whether or not intelligence is linked to the X chromosome in a person's genetic makeup. Perhaps this research will end the never ending battle of the sexes regarding which sex is smarter.

X Rated summary

Recent research regarding the X chromosome sequence may help to define the biological differences between men and women. Sexual differences in intelligence were once thought to arise primarily from hormones and the environment. Studies have not found intelligence to be attributed to a single gene, but new discoveries may show that genes on the X chromosome may play a direct role. David Page, interim director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, admits that attempts to link enrichment of cognitive genes on the X chromosome to IQ differences are "reasonable speculation".

Women receive two X chromosomes: one from each parent. However, men obtain a Y chromosome from the father and only one X chromosome from the mother. The Y chromosome bares genes that serve to invoke sperm production and other factors regarding male sexual reproduction. The X chromosome sports one thousand ninety-eight protein-carrying genes. Only fifty-four of the genes have functional counterparts found on the Y chromosome. When a gene on the X chromosome mutates in a woman, the woman has another x chromosome to balance out the irregularity. Unfortunately, men do not possess an extra X chromosome to "fix" any errors that may arise from X chromosome mutations. The fact that males only have one X chromosome and few Y counterparts to match the X genes...