Education Improves Your Brain on a Physical Level


Schooling appears to cause specific maturational changes in children’s brains, especially math schooling. Tests of subsistence farmers show that the more schooling they have, the better their brains work on tests or neural imaging. Math curriculum demands have risen over the 20th Century. Conclusion: Increased education, especially in math, may be partly responsible for the Flynn Effect.

Amazing article. Could improved education be driving Flynn changes in IQ in the modern era? Education, especially in math (Why math?) actually improves your brain on a physical level. Incredible.

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Filed under Education, Flynn Effect, Intelligence, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science

72 responses to “Education Improves Your Brain on a Physical Level

  1. swank

    What’s incredible is that the only things that have been reliably shown to affect IQ are “environmental.”

    No gene has been reliably linked to normal variation.

    Of course, even the above isn’t incredible to anyone who is aware of the huge advances in neural plasticity research over the last 50 years.

    • See, there you go again. You are once again saying that genes have no effect whatsoever on IQ. You said previously that genes affect 0% of the variation of IQ within and between groups. You just said it once again. “Genes have no affect whatsoever on IQ.”

      And every time I point out that you say that, you jump and lie and say that you never said that.

    • swank

      What I say “no gene has been reliably linked to normal variation.”

      Your strawman: “You are once again saying that genes have no effect whatsoever on IQ”

      “You said previously that genes affect 0% of the variation of IQ within and between groups”
      “And every time I point out that you say that, you jump and lie and say that you never said that.”

      Because I haven’t said that. The number of fingers on a hand is totally genetically determined and yet shows extremely low genetic variability. In your world, saying that ‘number of fingers’ shows low genetic variation or that ‘number of fingers’ has only really been shown to be affected by environmental factors (outside of freak genetic mutations) = ‘number of fingers’ has NO genetic component!

      Call me a liar all you like. The truth is what it is and your rhetorical gambits won’t and can’t change it. Me West. HBD Savage.

      Jensen is the only one “taken seriously” on some level by people outside pioneer-funders. And he isn’t taken seriously on race and IQ. He’s “taken seriously” on mental chronometry.

      • swank

        False positive.

      • swank

        Blah blah jive jive…

      • swank

        If you exclude all the retards and people with disorders, i.e. people one would expect to have low “semen quality,” then WHOA, you’ll find a correlation.

        B.S. strikes again.

      • swank

        It’s not a strawman at all. I explained why there would be a correlation.

      • swank

        The paper generally discusses ‘g’ in a framework that is singularly refuted by the graph.

        Instead of linking to walls of text…quote relevant sections.

      • swank

        I’m not ignoring them. You’re just going link crazy without giving direct quotes. It’d be like me linking to all of wikipedia and saying ‘see?!’

      • swank

        Admitting heritability is meaningless, as I’ve detailed on this blog. But I did omit a word above:*don’t exclude.

        And naturally you have a correlation that is low and subject to confounds.

      • swank

        And if that were true, fluid tests wouldn’t be less heritable.

      • swank

        Aee you going to put forward relevant quotes or your own arguments at any time?

      • swank

        Then quote the commentary that you believe is relevant.

        The cited pages don’t speak to the issue at all knowing what we know about about neural plasticity,

      • swank

        I don’t need to repeat myself for the umpteenth time.

        You’re the one who believes heritability is meaningful.

      • swank

        You seem to be saying that admitting heritability is a causative factor is meaningless.

        Not what I’m saying at all.

        Admitting heritability is meaningless means EXACTLY what it says. The fact that you BELIEVE it is a causal factor shows that YOU do NOT UNDERSTAND heritability.

      • swank

        Actually I stated that I forgot a word before exclude: don’t.

        And those quotes don’t contradict one another. You’re just further demonstrating the misunderstanding….

      • swank

        And here is the abstract — the guy is just hypothesizing that it’s possible for innate differences to be consistent with neural plasticity.

        Seeing as how you don’t seem to get that twin studies are meaningless because of EEA and that heritability estimates are uninformative, the rest of the quote is blah.

      • swank

        More proof that you don’t even check your links. Look at the comments section of your youtube video: the author of the criticized study destroys the video’s “critique.”

      • swank

        Because you still believe heritability = “genetic” or “inherited” or “genetically determined,” which is WRONG. One cannot infer such from heritability outside of very specific conditions which have never obtained in the experiments and studies on humans.

        The question of abnormal individuals included in the sample is addressed by the fact that my arguments all concern NORMAL variation.

      • swank

        Shared environment is estimated from EEA which is meaningless, and heritability != genetic.

        You keep recycling the same garbage.

      • swank

        Once again, you offer a string cite without even bothering to read. In the comments section of your blog links, the author of that paper dismantles the critiques against him.

      • swank

        “There is something of a consensus in most fields (e.g. philosophy of biology, evolutionary biology, psychology and behavioral genetics) that heritability measures (particularly h2b measures) only have a very limited use. ”

        Sesardic is almost a lone wolf.

      • swank

        Material has been given as to the causes of that popular view from ideological infiltration:

        Arbitrary handwave number two and disingenuous, seeing as how nearly ALL SCHOLARS you have cited are connected with the pioneer fund, which a) does not require peer review and b) has direct ties with white supremacy and eugenics.

        Further, Plomin also has direct ties to eugenics.

    • swank

      It’s not just a valid point. It’s the Waterloo of nature v. nurture as a concept.

    • swank

      Cite which studies Jensen and Rushton refer to and I will explain to you why their conclusions are consistent with BOTH “genetic” and “environmental” explanations.

      • swank

        Your further commentary countering me = Jensen and Rushton have a hereditarian interpretation of everything. If you’re keeping it that general then the response is that adoption studies are generally equivocal.

      • swank

        At this point you’re just link spamming to cites that have been refuted.

        You cite to the very book by Segal that released the unpublished damming MZA DZA data as a response to that critique: a non-sequitur.

        And the positive manifold it itself not a special finding, as Schonemann demonstrated and I have cited and upon which Malloy’s analysis depends.

        Check also the comments section of those posts in both for a clarification and counterpoint

    • swank

      Ah, Bouchard, the guy who didn’t publish the data showing that MZA and DZA twins didn’t significantly different on FIQ and Ravens thereby demolishing his entire paradigm?

      Not to mention that twin studies rely on EEA which is false.

      • swank

        You cited to Segal as an authority. The insignificant correlative difference between DZA and MZA came from p. 286 of her book and plugging in the sample sizes.

        Further, “twin data sets show that the correlations in twins’ IQs actually change with the environment, in a pretty crude way which nonetheless goes beyond what people generally include in their models. I will quote from an old paper by Bronfenbrenner [3, pp. 159–160], because it’s handy and it makes the point:

        The importance of degree of environmental variation in influencing the correlation between identical twins reared apart, and hence the estimate of heritability based on this statistic, is revealed by the following examples.
        a. Among 35 pairs of separated twins for whom information was available about the community in which they lived, the correlation in Binet IQ for those raised in the same town was .83; for those brought up in different towns, the figure was .67.

        b. In another sample of 38 separated twins, tested with a combination of verbal and non-verbal intelligence scales, the correlation for those attending the same school in the same town was .87; for those attending schools in different towns, the coefficient was .66. In the same sample, separated twins raised by relatives showed a correlation of .82; for those brought up by unrelated persons, the coefficient was .63.

        c. When the communities in the preceding sample were classified as similar vs. dissimilar on the basis of size and economic base (e.g. mining vs. agricultural), the correlation for separated twins living in similar communities was .86; for those residing in dissimilar localities the coefficient was .26.

        d. In the Newman, Holzinger, and Freeman study, ratings are reported of the degree of similarity between the environments into which the twins were separated. When these ratings were divided at the median, the twins reared in the more similar environments showed a correlation of .91 between their IQ’s; for those brought up in less similar environments, the coefficient was .42.”

        But sure…it’s the communists.

      • swank

        If you have a flawed assumption that runs rampant, it’s not surprising that several studies will “confirm the result” of such an assumption.

        That’s why fraternal twins are more similar than siblings despite sharing the same genetic material: EEA is false.

      • Swank, fraternal twins are more alike than siblings because THEY SHARED A PRENATAL ENVIRONMENT INSIDE THE WOMB. Ok? Oh and prenatal environment doesn’t really count for “environment” because you can’t alter it after birth.

      • swank

        Swank, fraternal twins are more alike than siblings because THEY SHARED A PRENATAL ENVIRONMENT INSIDE THE WOMB. Ok?

        Indeed, accounting for womb effects has been shown to reduce h^2 to zero or near zero.

        Oh and prenatal environment doesn’t really count for “environment” because you can’t alter it after birth.

        An expecting mother can alter that environment.

      • swank

        “Even in the context of the responses to Palmer’s Slate article, Segal failed to answer serious criticism of the twin method and the equal environment assumption. Following Palmer’s article, I posted several online comments outlining the main problems with twin studies, as did psychologist Ken Richardson. Following this, Segal posted “The Value of Twin Studies,” which failed to specifically address these points.”

      • swank


        “Eleven relevant studies that encompassed 9119 twin pairs provided 24 comparisons of intraclass correlations, which we grouped into the five social exposure categories. Fisher’s z-test revealed significantly higher correlations in identical than fraternal pairs for each exposure category (z ≥ 3.53, p < 0.001).”

      • swank

        That article is too recent

        And the arbitrary handwaving begins. That study represents an empirical datapoint that tests the EEA in nearly 10,000 twins.

        And it is found false.

        Further, I posted a response to the articles you held up: they don’t address the most salient criticisms of EEA.

        And you never responded to the other critiques I posted above.

        You’re imploding.

    • Santoculto

      “We found significant positive correlations between intelligence and 3 key indices of semen quality: log sperm concentration (r= .15, p= .002), log sperm count (r= .19, pb.001), and sperm motility (r= .14, p= .002) in a large sample of US Army Veterans”

      Army are not a very good representative sample. People with different cognitive profiles ( psychometrically quantitative and qualitative) is likely to have slight different biological variables which correlates with their intelligence type.

      For example, highly creative persons seems to have higher mutational load because the heterozygosis with mental illness while highly smart persons seems have the opposite bio-profile.


      for hair, eyes, skin color,
      for shorter, average and taller,
      for less smart, average and smarter….. but….

      there are a tons of blonde, red and brown colors for hair, eyes,
      tons of color for skin color,
      tons for ”less smart”, ”average” and ”smarter”.

  2. Creaders

    A large part of IQ test is on how you figure correlationship of figures and number,

    If you work hard in studying mathematics, then you will improve in that part of IQ test.

    People who say IQ cannot be improve by education has no clue of what is going on or they are the privilege 1%.

  3. The most likely major causes of the Flynn effect are nutrition and schooling. People can quibble over which plays a larger role, but both seem to have large effects on IQ.

    It’s understood that the nutritional effects on IQ are real (though not g loaded). The real question is do the schooling gains involve real intelligence, or do they just artificially boost IQ scores by increasing acquired knowledge, persistence, motivation, etc. I think school domesticates people…teaches them how to sit still and pay attention, which is useful on standardized tests, but does it genuinely improve ability? Traditionally, all the evidence has said “no”, but there’s always room for more research.

  4. Santoculto

    Some people have greater to modest-reasonable potential for math skills, others not. If i start to study hard math i won’t improve substantially my natural weak math skills, maybe superficially.
    I dislike math because i’m not good on math, and the same reality for most people.
    This experiment look like dog training ( education is training itself) . Is necessary analyse it in long term because learning need internalization to be complete and efficient.

    Improvement in ”cognitive tests performance” ”maybe” can mean nothing or little in real world. I mean, you can improve some skills but without improvement of practical reasoning in daily life. Of course knowledge is a important tool that can be used in the real world, but is always important learn to take the fish alone or observe people who are more intelectually autonomous.

  5. Atmo

    My brain is brolic, baby.

  6. Jason Y

    That makes sense. I mean if you want stronger muscles then you work them out, right?

  7. Jason Y

    Most people hate math. Added to that, blacks hate nearly all subjects. Therefore, what’s the odds they’re going to improve in math? Are black parents going to push kids in math? Are mostly black schools going to push people more in math?

    However, the point being, if more money was invested in education, and invested wisely, then IQ scores would come up.

    • Jason Y

      The problem with blacks and many others is have a “neer do well” take on life. If your going to improve brain wise, you gotta start working harder.

      • Jason Y

        When your typical white natonalists mocks blacks (among others) and puts them down in every way, he thinks their behavior is inborn. It’s not. It’s just a type of “neer do well” attitude.

        • Jason Y

          It’s not inborn, it’s due to all of those Black single mothers. Stop ignoring the main problem in the Black community.

          Yes and no, black mothers are the problem, but black fathers have a huge responsibility which they have neglected.

    • Jason Y

      That could be overcome, if everyone was willing to work at it. As of now, chances aren’t very good. Something revolutionary would have to happen.

    • Santoculto

      Elastics metaphor again… maybe i can stretch my (poverello) elastic for math but will be with great effort but just in a short term.

      We can apply this to all. You have a fear of heights but want you look down from a high building. You have a natural intolerance (high functioning labyrinthitis, lol) for very high areas, but make the effort to do this. When the effort is too much is because it is not natural, it is not your strenght (although some people might have as its strength precisely the effort capacity). Try to learn what you do not like is called pain or torture. That’s what the school is. Thanks to ” equality ” of ” non-individual ” ”who” are merely the result of environmental interactions, we are nothing, we are encapsulated entities within a body and just react to environmental factors (some said) like rocks or other inanimates.

      • Santoculto

        People mistakes ”mental plasticity” with ”brain development or maturation”.

      • swank

        Santo joins the latest string of people to steal my ideas.

        My words: Minds are like trampolines, and society/environment/culture is like a boulder sitting on the trampoline. An IQ test measures the depression created by the boulder. IMO some boulders are bigger than others, and there’s also slight variability in the elasticity of the material.

        Santo now needs to realize that the changes are more or less permanent. Wherever an individual is currently, if the individual stopped practicing and learning, is beyond their true skill (that is the process of learning, being outside one’s comfortzone). However, the size of one’s comfort zone can and does permanently expand.

        • Santoculto

          I did not steal their ideas, Swank. To be honest, I barely read what you write.

          Potential that is to say,


          Education, because of the ideology of pseudo-equality that you like, cause cognitive suffering for most people.

          Education is a big lie, for the most part, I giving private lessons, I know that.

          Professional of human resources area of any company, do more to help people in your self-knowledge, than the school is (on average) in 15 years.

          I see a variety of cognitive ability, of all types, sizes and qualities as a continuum of motivation and specific and intrinsic talent. perhaps I can improve my knowledge in mathematics, if I study hard, but it is not natural, is an unnecessary effort and after superficial improvement, is likely to regress to my average, my elastic for math is not very plastic. Imagine you to get on a elastic and trying to stretch it, some elastic, are not stretchable.

        • swank

          “To be honest, I barely read what you write.”

          True, which is why your responses to me are non-responses.

          “Professional of human resources area of any company”

          I agree….because they teach skills specific to the job.

          “Imagine you”

          I know what you are saying…now read what I say. Here is a simplified example: if you stretch something for a brief period of time, it will return back to its original length…but if you stretch it long enough with enough force, the length it will be after the return “bounce” will be longer than it was before.

          The changes in neural plasticity that are observed are enduring, not temporary.

        • Santoculto

          ”I know what you are saying…now read what I say. Here is a simplified example: if you stretch something for a brief period of time, it will return back to its original length…but if you stretch it long enough with enough force, the length it will be after the return “bounce” will be longer than it was before.

          The changes in neural plasticity that are observed are enduring, not temporary.”

          I’ll try, because your comments irritate me.

          Yes, it may be true, but there is the question, and the potential or predisposition to stretch it **

          Then you are totally missing the point, of course.

          From this finding, you mean that ” anyone can be transformed intellectually, of an average black for an advanced intellectual level ”.

          You missed the point of the ” intellectual suffering ”.

          If I’m not naturally good at math, so why the school should force myself to try to be **

          We have to stop to think and ask. Why do some people need to be forced to like to read, for example, literature books ***

          Then will come the answer. Most of those who love to read literature books, or anything else, are more likely to score higher on verbal IQ tests.

          It’s called cognitive empathy when you like what we’re doing, in cognitive terms.

          The school tries to force millions of children and adolescents to be as the gifted, the ‘example’ ‘of the class. While most children and adolescents have different needs and motivations.

          Read and learn is a physiological need for me and I believe for you too, but will not be for most, although there is a relatively complex variability.

          What we call neural plasticity actually it is confused with common brain development. Just as there is muscle plasticity to a certain age and then decreases this ability of muscle strengthening.

          Our personal experiences will be unique, but perhaps our brain development will not be as disturbed as well by environmental weathering, in a general and non-specific sense (maybe less for people with post-traumatic predispositions).

          Of course, language learning has a significant impact and the speed at which we learn to speak is fantastic (not for everyone), but this can be ” just ” the expected result of a natural process of brain development. Does it expose all children with 3 to 5 years to learn 10 languages, they will be able to do it *** What we know, a human child is smarter than a adult monkey, is not**

        • swank

          No I haven’t missed the point, I’ve discussed why the last refuge of heredetarians, amplification, is also likely false.

          Briefly, humans were not selected for fixed action behaviors, they were selected to learn from an environment and thrive in that environment. Amplification suggests that people merely seek out different environments because reasons.

          Intellectual suffering occurs when one tries to acquire granular knowledge before acquiring systemetizing or paradigmic knowledge.

  8. Jason Y

    Plenty of “neer do wells” in the white schools I attended in Appalachia. One class the coach teacher (You know coaches only care about sports.) gave a open book final for pre-algebra. 😆

    Beevis and Butthead? 😆 The show wasn’t fiction my friends.

  9. Jason Y

    Playing with ideas about genetics of which we are unsure can be dangerous. The Nazis used such ideas to murder innocent handicapped people, as well as launch a viscous campaign of murder against so called “lesser races”.

    It would be like somebody hearing cows cause mad cow from a one sided source, and then using the government to kill all cows.

  10. Jason Y

    I’m a realist, I don’t really buy into movies like Dangerous Minds, the story of a liberal teacher making a difference in the inner city. Nonetheless, if enough cash and work was put into changing the inner city, starting out with calling in the military to clean out gangs, then we’d see the miracles we see on Dangerous Minds.

    However, in a place like Appalachia, some idealist teacher might be able to make a difference, considering your not dealing with gangs etc…

    • swank

      I’m a realist, I don’t really buy into movies like Dangerous Mind

      It’s already happened. It works. And it didn’t take much beyond effort.

      • swank

        oh, and political will. Political will is kept in check by a combination of pseudoscience that even you partly buy in to and good old fashioned racism.

        • Jason Y

          I don’t buy into it very much I mean, you can’t deny some traits are genetic. However, more than likely a very small percentage of factors making up the mental state are genetic, and even those factors can be molded by the environment.

          Nonetheless, ultimately, they believe the pseudoscience, and take it as being important, because that’s what they want to believe

        • Jason Y

          Exactly, that’s what they want to believe because a poltical agenda is being pushed. You can find an equal amount of nonsense on some extreme leftist forum where they might over-emphasize the role “class oppression” when talking about things.

        • swank

          “you can’t deny some traits are genetic”

          Of course. The mistakes are to believe that all traits are the same,

          “more than likely a very small percentage of factors making up the mental state are genetic,”

          I’ve never said anything different —>

          Quoted words:

          “this leaves room for raw genetic variation, but it’d be of a type you’d see between world-beaters“

          You can find an equal amount of nonsense

          See, this is where comes in.

          While X or Y about “class oppression” may or may not be true, the connection between factors like wealth and IQ is indeed more reliably established than any “gene” and IQ.

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  12. Jason Y

    Consider the Haiti example:

    Well, of course Haiti in 1899 was uneducated, violent, and unstable. They just broke free of slavery as well fought a revolution.

    • Jason Y

      Oh, never mind what I wrote above, I though it was saying 1799.

      Anyhow, Haiti was isolated from the world for much of it’s post-slavery history. Punishment for going against the world order. Also, it owed a huge debt to France. Considering these conditions, it’s not hard to see why it would be violent, uneducated, and unstable.

      • Jason Y

        Quote from Swank:

        While X or Y about “class oppression” may or may not be true, the connection between factors like wealth and IQ is indeed more reliably established than any “gene” and IQ.

        Yes,I agree on that point.

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