Smarter or just fattier?

In an amusing echo to my Smarter or just Faster post on the nature of intelligence, there is a report at Technology Review pointing out a “strong correlation” between the condition of the fatty myelin sheaths of neurons (the insulators to their wires) and IQ. This would make for faster transmission (and presumably less background noise in the system).

I think the article overstates its case, though. We all know that IQ is normally distributed (bell curve). There’s a well-known theorem that the sum of a bunch of random variables tends to be normally distributed, and thus when we see normal distributions in nature we expect a sum of contributions, of which myelin integrity would only be one.

Still, it’s nice to know that once we get nanomedicine, that’s a pretty straightforward thing to fix!

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