Mother's genes help child develop strategy skills

July 1, 2005

Using volumetric MRI, researchers in London concluded that maternal genetic factors control the development of children's frontal lobe regions, a genetic determinant that may have been associated with food gathering in prehistoric times.

Using volumetric MRI, researchers in London concluded that maternal genetic factors control the development of children's frontal lobe regions, a genetic determinant that may have been associated with food gathering in prehistoric times.

Dr. Jonathan Wells and colleagues measured the height and head circumference of 75 men and women at the time of their child's birth. Those data were used to create an encephalization quotient (EQ), an experimental accepted proxy for parental brain genomes. The children underwent 3D MR brain imaging to measure gray matter density.

A comparison of results from parents and children revealed a highly significant positive correlation between the maternal EQ and the child's frontal lobe gray matter density. The relevant coordinates fell within the Brodmann's area 10 in the frontopolar prefrontal cortex, an area associated with formulation of strategy and possibly food-sharing behavior. No statistical connection could be made between the paternal EQ and the child's frontal lobe.