The Surprising Reason You’re Super Smart​

Hasan Variawa |

Your ‘geek index’ might be off the charts. – By Christa Sgobba

Your superior smarts may be traced to a surprising source: your dad—or, more specifically, how old he was when you were born, a new study in the journal Translational Psychiatry suggests.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 8,000 twins, including the age of their fathers and their cognitive function. They measured this by a “geek index” they created: a compilation of scores of non-verbal intelligence, strong focus on areas of personal interest, and social aloofness, or a reduced need to fit in with a peer group.

Sons of older dads tended to score higher on the geek index, the researchers found. This link persisted even after controlling for factors that could skew the relationship, like parental socioeconomic status, employment, and age of the mother.

When using national standardized tests to verify the geek index past childhood, the researchers found that kids of dads older than 50 were 32 percent more likely to achieve two A+ grades than those whose dads were younger than 25 when they were born.

The findings here suggest the having an older dad might give sons advantages later on, such as in educational or career settings, the researchers said in a press release. In contrast, prior studies have linked advanced paternal age to adverse outcomes, like schizophrenia or autism.

One possible reason for some studies showing pros and other showing cons? The genes driving both “geekiness” and autism might overlap—and may be more prevalent in older dads.

“When the child is born only with some of those genes, they may be more likely to succeed in school,” study author Magdalena Janecka. Ph.D., said in the release. “However, with a higher ‘dose’ of these genes, and when there are other contributing risk factors, they may end up with a higher predisposition for autism.

It’s also possible that environmental factors may play a role. Older dads may have more established careers, which can allow them to raise their kids in more learning-focused atmospheres.

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