News FocusNEUROPSYCHOLOGY

Nurture Helps Mold Able Minds

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Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1832-1834
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5409.1832

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Summary

Researchers have found that intelligence quotients (IQs) can be modified, especially early in life, depending on such factors as how parents talk to their infants, the availability and quality of infant and toddler day-care programs, and the amount of schooling a person receives. Although not everyone agrees that IQ is so easily tweaked, even some who contend that IQ is determined by genes are enthusiastic about the attempts to tease out environmental influences on IQ. Much still remains to be learned about the nature and extent of these influences. But what researchers have found so far already has important implications: The work supports the idea that racial differences in IQ are not genetically determined, and it implies that well-designed day-care programs might lower the risk of cognitive impairment and school failure in the 23% of American children who spend at least part of their childhood in poverty.