Bad at Math? Blame It on Your Parents

And if your kids aren't good at math, blame yourself

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One plus one really does equal two, when those ones are your parents and that two is you.

UCLA researchers  have used a new type of brain scanner to find the inherited physical characteristics -- the hard-wiring
of the brain -- that determine a person's degree of intelligence.

And for those who have always suspected that the ability to handle math is a matter of a person's brain is wired, the new UCLA study confirms that folk theory:  The section of brain used for math computations may be 85 percent dependant on hereditary, genetic factors, according to the UCLA scientists.

Neurologists for the first time have been able to look at chemicals that wrap around the brain's axons, which are the wiring that sends signals through the brain. The faster the signaling, the faster the brain processes information, UCLA researchers said.

Since the integrity of the brain's wiring is influenced by genes, the DNA we inherit play a far greater role in intelligence than previously thought, said UCLA neurology professor Paul Thompson. Genes determine how much insulation, in the form of myelin, is wrapped around brain axons allowing for fast signaling bursts in our brain, and therefore, greater intelligence.
  
The thicker the myelin, the faster the nerve impulses, and the more degree of intelligence, Thompson said.

Various parts of the brain are responsible for different thought processes, and those areas have differing amounts of the myelin that is regulated by heredity, the researchers found. The amount of myelin in the section of the brain used heavily for mathematical calculations, for example, indicates that mathematical ability may be 85 percent hereditary.

The brain lobes that handle vision may be 76 percent reliant on genetic factors, and the lobe that handles planning, inhibition and self-control may be 65 percent reliant on genetic influence.
  
Capability for learning and memory was claculated at only 45 percent on genetic factors.
  
The UCLA neurologist believes identifying the genes that promote high-integrity myelin is critical to forestalling brain diseases like multiple sclerosis and autism, which have been linked to the breakdown of myelin.
  
"The whole point of this research is to give us insight into brain diseases," Thompson said.

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