Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quick thinkers are born not made: The speed at which we process new information is written in our genes

The journal article for that is: "GWAS for executive function and processing speed suggests involvement of the CADM2 gene".  Processing speed is one aspect of IQ so this is another genetic contribution to IQ identified.

It has long been agreed that IQ is affected by many genes but an earlier article in the same series ("Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium (N=53949)" shows that 28% to 29% of the genes affecting IQ have now been identified:  "The proportion of phenotypic variation accounted for by all genotyped common SNPs [single-nucleotide polymorphism] was 29% and 28%"

The first article in the series was "Genome-wide Studies of Verbal Declarative Memory in Nondemented Older People: The Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium".  It isolated genes for memory performance, also important to IQ

"General cognitive function" is basically just a euphemism for IQ  -- less likely to frighten the horses. It is encouraging to see the long list of academics involved in the studies above.  Interest in studying "general cognitive function" is obviously widespread, despite its political incorrectness. Layman's account of the first study mentioned above given below

Quick thinkers are born not made, claim scientists.  They have discovered a link between our genes and the ability to remain mentally on the ball in later life.  It is the first time a genetic link has been shown to explain why some people have quick thinking skills.

Researchers identified a common genetic variant – changes in a person’s genetic code – related to how quickly a person is able to process new information.  The researchers say the finding could help understand how the brain works, and why some people develop mental decline, while others do not.

Professor Ian Deary, director of the centre for cognitive ageing and cognitive epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and a co-author on the study, said: ‘Processing speed is thought to be a core capability for preserving other mental skills in older age.

‘This inkling into why some people's processing speed is more efficient than others is a small but encouraging advance in understanding the biological foundations of more efficient thinking.’

Professor Deary said the study found one variant with a relation to processing speed.  He said: ‘The genetic difference that was significantly related to slight slowing of processing speed was one that about one third of the population have.’

The Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium, which includes experts at the University of Edinburgh, brought together data from 12 different countries on 30,000 people, aged more than 45 years old.

The participants – none of whom had dementia – took cognitive function tests that included tests of simple, repeated coding under pressure of time.

Researchers then processed the results alongside details of each person’s genome to identify genetic variants or changes associated with speed of thinking skills.

People with slower processing speed overall were found to have variants near a gene called CADM2.

The CADM2 gene is linked to the communication process between brain cells - the gene is particularly active in the frontal and cingulate cortex in the brain, which are areas of the brain involved in thinking speed.

Professor Deary said the study examined the genetic contribution to processing speed differences among middle-aged and older people.

‘This is important because, as people age, when processing speed slows down there tends to be reduced efficiency of other thinking skills too, like reasoning executive functions, and some aspects of memory,' he said.

‘So it is important to understand the mechanisms by which people differ in their processing speed.'

Lead researcher Dr Carla Ibrahim-Verbaas, resident in Neurology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, said: ‘We have identified a genetic variant which partly explains the differences in information processing speed between people.

‘Our study confirms the likely role of CADM2 in between-cell communication, and therefore cognitive performance. It is of interest that the gene has also been linked to autism and personality traits.’

The study complements two other recent discoveries by the CHARGE team, which identified genetic variants associated with memory performance and general cognitive functioning in older adults.

The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry journal, involved researchers in Australia, Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the UK and the US.



An interesting answer to Mrs Obama

Why is the woman below so healthy?  According to Mrs Obama and the food dictators she should be dead.  There are many examples of extreme diets doing no harm.  It's doubtful if anybody knows what an unhealthy diet is. Eskimos living on a traditional diet eat little else but meat and blubber.  It's difficult to grow vegetables at the North pole.  It's a definite that neither broccoli nor Brussels sprouts are needful for a healthy diet

A young woman says she lives on almost nothing but Rice Krispies – and insists she is still healthier than most people.

Natalie Swindells, 26, eats four bowls of the cereal every day. She can’t face eating much else and has not tasted a vegetable for nearly two decades.

The bank worker, who says she has never taken a day off sick, stopped eating most other foods from the age of two. She now believes overeating causes more health problems than having a very restricted diet like her own.

‘I think doctors overestimate the amount of vitamins that we need to be healthy,’ she said.  ‘I think it is about how much you eat, not what you’re eating.’

In a typical day, Miss Swindells will have two bowls of Rice Krispies with milk for breakfast, followed by a slice of bread and butter for lunch, and two bowls of Rice Krispies again for dinner.

She will also occasionally eat milk chocolate, ready salted crisps and chips. Although she consumes fewer than half of the recommended 2,000 calories for women Miss Swindells still has an active lifestyle. She lives in Macclesfield with her boyfriend Daniel Walsh, 26, who she says has grown accustomed to her strange eating habits.  ‘He’s pretty cool with it,’ she said.

In fact, the last time she tasted a vegetable was 18 years ago, when her mother tried to make her eat a roast dinner – and failed.



Hillary’s Ungainly Glide


Hillary Clinton’s announcement followed by her dark-windowed SUV journey into deepest darkest America was the most inept, phony, shallow, slickily-slick and meaningless launch of a presidential candidacy I have ever seen. We have come to quite a pass when the Clintons can’t even do the show business of politics well. The whole extravaganza has the look of profound incompetence and disorganization—no one could have been thinking this through—or profound cynicism, or both. It has yielded only one good thing, and that is a memorable line, as Mrs. Clinton glided by reporters: “We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan.” That is how the Washington Post quoted her, on ideas on campaign finance reform.

Marco Rubio had a pretty great announcement in that it made the political class look at him in a new way, and a better way. I have heard him talk about his father the bartender I suppose half a dozen times, yet hearing it again in his announcement moved me. I don’t know how that happened. John Boehner is the son of a barkeep. It has occurred to me a lot recently that many if not most of the people I see in the highest reaches of American life now come from relatively modest circumstances. Rubio is right that this is our glory, but I’m thinking one of the greatest things about America is a larger point: There’s room for everybody. You can rise if you come from one of the most established, wealthiest families, and you can rise if you came from nothing.

I have promised myself I will stop talking about the musical “Hamilton” and so will not note that this is one of the points made in the musical “Hamilton”: America was special in this regard from the beginning, with landed gentry like Jefferson and Washington working side by side with those such as the modestly born Ben Franklin and the lowborn Alexander Hamilton. But now it is more so. Anyway, back to Rubio: “Yesterday’s over” was good, and strict, and was a two shot applying as much to the Clintons as the Bushes.

Two points on the general feel of the 2016 campaign so far.

One is that in the case of Mrs. Clinton we are going to see the press act either like the press of a great nation—hungry, raucous, alive, demanding—or like a hopelessly sickened organism, a big flailing octopus with no strength in its arms, lying like a greasy blob at the bottom of the sea, dying of ideology poisoning.

Republicans know—they see it every day—that Republican candidates get grilled, sometimes impertinently, and pressed, sometimes brusquely. And it isn’t true that they’re only questioned in this way once they announce, Scott Walker has been treated like this also, and he has yet to announce. Republicans see this, and then they see that Mrs. Clinton isn’t grilled, is never forced to submit to anyone’s morning-show impertinence, is never the object of the snotty question or the sharp demand for information. She gets the glide. She waves at the crowds and the press and glides by. No one pushes. No one shouts the rude question or rolls out the carefully scripted set of studio inquiries meant to make the candidate squirm. She is treated like the queen of England, who also isn’t subjected to impertinent questions as she glides into and out of venues. But she is the queen. We are not supposed to have queens.

Second point: We have simply never had a dynamic like the one that seems likely to prevail next year.

On the Republican side there is a good deep bench and there will be a hell of a fight among serious and estimable contenders. A handful of them—Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rubio, maybe Bobby Jindal—are first-rate debaters, sharp advancers of a thought and a direction. Their debates, their campaigning, their oppo geniuses, their negative ads—it’s all going to be bloody. Will the American people look at them in 2016 and see dynamism and excitement and youth and actual ideas and serious debate? Will it look like that’s where the lightning’s striking and the words have meaning? Will it fortify and revivify the Republican brand? Or will it all look like mayhem and chaos? Will the eventual winner emerge a year from now too bloodied, too damaged to go on and win in November? Will the party itself look bloody and damaged?

On the Democratic side we have Mrs. Clinton, gliding. If she has no serious competition, will the singularity of her situation make her look stable, worthy of reflexive respect, accomplished, serene, the obvious superior choice? Or will Hillary alone on the stage, or the couch, or in the tinted-window SUV, look entitled, presumptuous, old, boring, imperious, yesterday?

Will it all come down to bloody versus boring? And which would America prefer?



How Much Do the Top 1 Percent Pay of All Taxes?,/b>

Ever since President Obama started running for president in 2007, there has been a debate about how much tax rich Americans pay and whether they should pay more.

In that ongoing debate, Paul Krugman and Matt Yglesias criticized the chart below because, according to them, it does not give a complete picture of the tax burden borne by Americans because it only includes the federal income tax.

Since the rich pay a higher share of federal income taxes than of total federal taxes, they argued we were misleading by making it look like the rich pay a higher share of taxes than they do.

We responded to them here and here. In those responses, we showed we weren’t being misleading because we make plain the chart includes only federal income tax. Furthermore, examining the federal income tax makes sense because President Obama has long wanted to raise it on the rich.

We also agreed that it made sense to look at the total federal tax burden, in addition to federal income taxes, to offer additional context to the debate.

In that spirit, here is a new chart that shows the burden of all federal taxes, including individual income, corporate income, payroll, excise and other miscellaneous taxes:

It still shows the same story: Top earners pay a disproportionately large share of the federal tax burden.

The top 10 percent pays 53.3 percent of all federal taxes. When looking at just federal income taxes, they pay 68 percent of the burden.

The top 1 percent pays 24 percent of all federal taxes compared to 35 percent of all federal income taxes.

The data for total federal taxes comes from the Congressional Budget Office. The data for federal income taxes comes from the IRS. Heritage has not altered the data from either in any way, except to combine income categories in the Congressional Budget Office data.

The top 10 percent and top 1 percent pay smaller shares of the tax burden when looking at total federal taxes than federal income taxes because the payroll tax, which accounts for more than a third of all federal tax receipts, is more evenly distributed than the income tax. But the corporate tax tempers that effect because it falls mostly (75 percent according to Congressional Budget Office) on shareholders, most of whom earn higher incomes, although not all of them.

Neither chart makes a judgment on whether those top earners pay too much or if they should pay more. The purpose of the original chart and this one is simply to give the American people facts.

More HERE. (See the original for links and graphics)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: