People born with larger heads are more intelligent, according to research from a large study.
Large heads — along with greater brain volume — are also linked to having a more successful future.
Those with larger heads are more likely to go on to higher education.
This is probably because children with larger heads also have higher scores on tests of verbal and numerical reasoning.
The findings come from the UK Biobank study, which is following half a million Britons.
Their physical and mental health is being monitored and connections to their genes are being analysed.
The research has been running for 10 years.
The findings of the study underline the link between health and intelligence.
People who are taller and have larger brains are also more likely to be healthy, the genetic study found.
Smarter people had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s diabetes and other diseases.
Dr Saskia Hagenaars, the study’s first author, said:
“The study supports an existing theory which says that those with better overall health are likely to have higher levels of intelligence.”
Dr Stuart Ritchie, who co-authored the study, said:
“This study tests whether genes that are linked to mental abilities and educational attainment are also genes that are related to some disorders.
We found that there are many overlaps: to take one example, genes related to being taller are also related to obtaining a college or university degree.
We also asked whether the sets of genes associated with many disorders and traits predicted people’s actual levels of cognitive abilities.
We found many overlaps there, too.
To take one example, people with more genes linked to cardiovascular disease tended to have lower reasoning ability.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry (Hagenaars et al., 2016).