Size of frontal lobes and giftedness in children? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 01:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd has an unusually pronounced forehead. So pronounced that a neurologist saw her regularly as a baby and I style her hair with bangs to cover her forehead. Her neurologist never did a brain scan and gave her the presumptive diagnosis of "benign enlargement of the subarachnoid space." Her neurologist made that diagnosis because dd had no signs of neurological problems and was hitting every milestone significantly early.

She's four years old now, and will soon turn five. I took her in to see a pediatric GI for some tummy troubles (totally unrelated to this post). The pedi GI was surprised at the way dd was able to read and understand things during the visit. Then dd's bangs fell back when she was getting up from lying down on the table after the exam and the pedi GI smiled and said "frontal lobes."

His comment made me wonder, and I googled "frontal lobes" and "intelligence" tonight and I did find a few links that might be meaningful. http://www.upmc.com/HealthManagement...chunkiid=92578

and this: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1223123116.htm

Because now I am wondering -- could intelligence be related to my daughter's pronounced forehead?

She has never been tested. My other daughter has a normal forehead but she seems just as intelligent.

What do you think? Have you heard anything about this?
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#2 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 02:49 AM
 
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My first thought is: I though phrenology went out in the early 20th century!

From what I know about brains (I'm not an expert, so I could be wrong), it's not so much size, but connections that matter. The brain folds in on itself in order to fit into the skull, and so it can increase the number of connections through density without necessarily increasing the size of the head. And even with connections, it's USEFUL connections that matter.

My gut tells me that it's a coincidence.

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#3 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 04:25 AM
 
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My study (albeit brief study) of biology agrees with Lynn. From my understanding each persons brain has the same number of cells, it's the connections that are affected by learning new things and being gifted. The only exception I've heard of to date is that some people with Dyslexia show a few extra cells in the symbol decoding area of the brain associated with reading and writing.

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#4 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I thought so too. But I found some studies that indicate that the amount of grey matter correlates to intelligence in men. This is a quote from the second link above.

Bigger Brain Size Matters For Intellectual Ability
ScienceDaily (Dec. 26, 2005) — Brain size matters for intellectual ability and bigger is better, McMaster University researchers have found.

The study, led by neuroscientist Sandra Witelson, a professor in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and published in the December issue of the journal Brain, has provided some of the clearest evidence on the underlying basis of differences in intelligence.

The study involved testing of intelligence in 100 neurologically normal, terminally ill volunteers, who agreed that their brains be measured after death.

It found bigger is better, but there are differences between women and men.
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#5 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 05:22 PM
 
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Craniometry, it's all the rage! : There are so many things wrong with that line of thinking that I don't even know where to begin. Cranial capacity? Cephalic index? Are we really excited to go back there?

And didn't some anthropologist somewhere point out that if bigger were in fact better then the neandertals were freaking BRILLIANT!
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#6 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually, I'm talking about the frontal lobes development, not the size of the brain.
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#7 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 05:53 PM
 
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But if the size of the frontal lobes increases, the overall size of the brain increases.

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#8 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 06:23 PM
 
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But if the size of the frontal lobes increases, the overall size of the brain increases.
One would think, right? Perhaps the occipital lobes are smaller in cases of increased frontal lobe capacity, thereby rendering the overall cranial capacity (cephalic index?) roughly equal to "normal" people.
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#9 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 06:27 PM
 
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But wouldn't that argue agaist the gifted with exceptional visual spacial skills? An are of the brain can't be smaller then average without affecting the processes occuring there can it?

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#10 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 06:32 PM
 
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But wouldn't that argue agaist the gifted with exceptional visual spacial skills? An are of the brain can't be smaller then average without affecting the processes occuring there can it?

True dat. Although, one could argue that the size of the visual-spatial area may not be so important. I mean, after all, it *is* visual spatial which is all relevant anyway, right? And aren't the connections what is important, and how those connections interact with one another?

Oh, OOPS, sorry, guess that's been said already.

Well then, perhaps visual/spacially gifted people are larger than average in the occipital region, while simultaneously being smaller than average in the frontal lobe region.
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#11 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 06:38 PM
 
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Okay, okay, in all seriousness if I am going to get out my academic hat and actually look at the data from the above posted links, I do have to say this.

Disclaimer: I am an anthropologist by schooling, and have read an awful lot of crap about classifying humans. I disagree with most of it, because IMO most of it is racist rubbish and I am really NOT excited to even go CLOSE to that research again. Ever.

That said. From the first link. That study had exactly 48 people involved. That is a very small n. Not really enough to convince me of anything, other than the fact that I want to see more research with a much larger n.

They also do not say, and I do not know, how it was determined that certain areas of grey matter are for certain kinds of intelligence, and certain types of white matter for other types of intelligence. If the methodology is there somewhere, I'd love to read about it.
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#12 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 06:43 PM
 
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If someones frontal lobes are smaller then average wouldn't that affect one's emotional intelligence and self control?

Hehe sorry couldn't help it.

I agree, the study wasn't a very large ones. Something worth looking into, but not really something to take as truth.

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#13 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 12:13 AM
 
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I know there is a connection between head size & autism- I am not 100% sure of the studies that have been done, but nearly every kid who has autism that I personally know- & I know MANY- their heads are huuuge, man!

Of course I also believe that there is a fine line between autistic & gifted... so we could both still be right, right?

I have never heard that a pronounced forehead= genius though- if that is true Tyra Banks should be the president of Mensa!!!!!
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#14 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 02:31 AM
 
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superstella,

Sorry this if somewhat off topic, but this statement intrigues me. What kind of anthropological research are you referring to? Just curious.

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Disclaimer: I am an anthropologist by schooling, and have read an awful lot of crap about classifying humans. I disagree with most of it, because IMO most of it is racist rubbish and I am really NOT excited to even go CLOSE to that research again. Ever.
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I have never heard that a pronounced forehead= genius though- if that is true Tyra Banks should be the president of Mensa!!!!!
From what I've read, Tyra Banks is really smart.

So my whole family has these really giant heads and/or really goofy-sized tall foreheads. I am not kidding--they don't make bike helmets big enough. That is my anecdotal contribution.

(But I think this is scientifically unsupported.)

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#16 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 11:56 AM
 
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I know there is a connection between head size & autism- I am not 100% sure of the studies that have been done, but nearly every kid who has autism that I personally know- & I know MANY- their heads are huuuge, man!

Of course I also believe that there is a fine line between autistic & gifted... so we could both still be right, right?

I have never heard that a pronounced forehead= genius though- if that is true Tyra Banks should be the president of Mensa!!!!!


Actually there have been articles that have stated similar to what is stated in bold.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articl...e&topic=health

It isn't the article I read earlier this year, but similar.

I have 3 kids all who I do suspect to be gifted (my oldest tested as so far).
My oldest has the 'large frontal lobes' and so does my dh. There was a time when my oldest was less than a year, that her head size seemed unusually large. She also of all my kids shows some autistic type traits. I've also read of the connection of head size/autism...here is a small article
http://www.sheknows.com/articles/966.htm

Obviously it isn't something where one can say big head, autistic... but more of a 'potential' warning sign.


While I do not think one can say large frontal lobes = gifted... I do think there are some cases where that may be the case... especially when considering the potential connection the poster above stated. This seems to be the case with my oldest, who is gifted and has some 'autistic' traits, but not autistic. (the same with dh)

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#17 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 01:38 PM
 
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superstella,

Sorry this if somewhat off topic, but this statement intrigues me. What kind of anthropological research are you referring to? Just curious.


Georges Vacher de Lapouge was probably the best known. I also had to read a lot of Paul Broca. Samuel George Morton coined the term "cranial capacity" although in defense of these researchers they were working within the confines of their time. It seems kind of silly now to try to classify human skulls into races based on how large or small their brains were, but that is exactly what they were trying to do at the time. William Ripley, Vint...

And Stephen J. Gould wrote a lot on the subject, discounting some of the previous researchers for falsifying data. He died pretty recently, early 2000s I think, and some of his work was highlighted for this reason.
William W. Howells, William Ripley (The Races of Europe)... Recently, J. Phillipe Rushton (Race, Evolution, and Behavior).

In graduate school I had to read all of these to have an understanding of where the field of anthropology had emerged, and where it was headed. I can say that some of those articles/books disgusted me because researchers were comparing black brains to white brains and finding differences and then using that for justification of the segregation and subjugation that was going on at that time in the world. Therefore, whenever I see studies that hope to classify humans based on brain size, I can't help but wander back, mentally, to these early anthropological "scientific" studies and wonder about the "differences" and what that means exactly. If you'd like more about specific authors or titles, please do let me know. I have a lot of them sitting here gathering dust on my shelves only because they were something I had to read along the way.

Hope that wasn't too much of a highjack from the OP, it is kind of relevant.
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#18 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 07:48 PM
 
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Don't they have Einstein's brain in a museum somewhere? His brain is supposed to weigh slightly more than average.

As far as front/back ratio of brain matter, the back is more about memory, and instinct, and the front is more about prediction and problem solving. . .

?? Just my 2cts!

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#19 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But if the size of the frontal lobes increases, the overall size of the brain increases.
Not in my daughter's case. All I know about is her head.
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#20 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Reading the responses to this thread I have to admit -- this is all over my head! Also, my big forehead daughter's older sister has a normal shaped head and they seem about the same intelligence-wise. My big forehead dd reads at a higher level than her sister did at the same age. My large forehead daughter has enjoyed mazes, puzzles, spot the difference, and pattern finding games from a very young age, but my older dd has never been that interested.

Maybe it's just a total coincidence in her case.
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#21 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 09:29 PM
 
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Well the frontal lobes are part of the brain, not the head so if bigger head means bigger frontal lobes it means bigger brain.

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#22 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well the frontal lobes are part of the brain, not the head so if bigger head means bigger frontal lobes it means bigger brain.
She has not had magnetic resonance imaging, so we don't really know what is there behind her pronounced forehead.
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#23 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 11:10 PM
 
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Yeah but the whole thread got into a brain size/intellegences deal. That's why it came up.

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#24 of 32 Old 08-04-2008, 12:30 AM
 
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Georges Vacher de Lapouge was probably the best known. I also had to read a lot of Paul Broca. Samuel George Morton coined the term "cranial capacity" although in defense of these researchers they were working within the confines of their time. It seems kind of silly now to try to classify human skulls into races based on how large or small their brains were, but that is exactly what they were trying to do at the time. William Ripley, Vint...
No, this answers my question. I couldn't tell from your original post if you were referring to current research or not. I know current anthropological thinking actually argues against the concept of "Race" ("there are no races, only clines." )

In this day and age, the only anthropologists that read this stuff is for introductory theory of anthro. classes. I had to read a much of outdated crap for grad. school too. Yes, many 18th and 19th cent. scientist spewed downright racist sentiment. FWIS, Franz Boas, the father of American Anthropology, early work (1920-30's) was dedicated to discrediting eugenics.

Thanks for clarification.
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#25 of 32 Old 08-04-2008, 05:06 PM
 
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But, see the article doesn't actually say that "bigger heads = smarter".

What it says is:
"The study found that women had about 85% of their IQ-related brain matter—both white and gray—located in the brain's frontal lobes. Comparatively, nearly all of the IQ-related gray matter in men is found equally between the frontal lobes and the parietal lobes (located behind the frontal lobe).

But since the men and women achieved similar IQ test results, researchers concluded that the different types of brain architecture lead to comparable intellectual performance. In short, men and women take different paths to reach the same intellectual threshold."

Thus, size is relative.

"Although, researchers also point out that there is some evidence that the volume of the brain's gray matter can increase with learning. So, intelligence may be influenced by other factors aside from biology."

This is the quintessential chicken and egg problem - do we learn more because we have bigger brains or do we have bigger brains because we learned more? It's probably a bit of the both.

Just like gifted athletes are likely to do things that increase their athletic abilities because they find these activities rewarding, so do academically/intellectually gifted people do things that increase their intellectual abilities because they're fun and rewarding. I could train for a marathon, but it would be a long haul. I'd much rather read articles about brain size!

OK, since I haven't got the urge to do my real work, here is a quote from an article about brain size:
"Numerous studies relating measures of brain size such as brain weight, head circumference, CT or MRI brain volume to different intelligence test measures, with variously defined samples of subjects have yielded inconsistent findings with correlations from approximately 0 to 0.6, with most correlations approximately 0.3 or 0.4."

Witelson SF; Beresh H; Kigar DL (2006). "Intelligence and brain size in 100 postmortem brains: sex, lateralization and age factors." Brain : a journal of neurology. 129(Pt) 2: 386-98.

In other words, where there is a correlation between brain size and intelligence, it only accounts for about 10-15% of the variance in human intelligence.

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#26 of 32 Old 08-05-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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I know there is a connection between head size & autism- I am not 100% sure of the studies that have been done, but nearly every kid who has autism that I personally know- & I know MANY- their heads are huuuge, man!
I've heard that, too, and I know that it's a marker... but BizzyBug has a small head.

Quote:
Of course I also believe that there is a fine line between autistic & gifted... so we could both still be right, right?
Lots of people are both.

My own take: My entire family is full of obscenely geeky people. We all have small to very small heads. As in, the last time I bought a bike helmet, it was a youth large because the adult small was too big. My sister's head is much larger than mine and it's still on the small side.

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#27 of 32 Old 08-07-2008, 03:56 PM
 
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well this is totally anecdotal but ...

i have a father with a giant head. he has a lot of trouble finding hats and bike helmets that fit him and i have a mother with an abnormally small head. i really lucked out and got an average size head. all of us where considered gifted as children. while i don't like my mother very much her head size does not seem to have affected her intelligence any. my dad would like to think his head size means he is really smart but i sometimes suspect he is just good at sounding smart. the older i get the more i learn to question everything he says because he is often wrong even though he can speak with an air of authority.

my dp also has an abnormally large head (our poor children will probably all have giant heads and never be able to find hats that fit when they grow up) and he is brilliant but i am very biased about his inteligence.

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#28 of 32 Old 08-07-2008, 03:59 PM
 
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the last time I bought a bike helmet, it was a youth large because the adult small was
the last time i bought a bike helmet i was told youth large where the same size as regular womens helmets. and i tried on both types and both fit me equally well. hmmmm

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#29 of 32 Old 08-07-2008, 07:04 PM
 
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the last time i bought a bike helmet i was told youth large where the same size as regular womens helmets. and i tried on both types and both fit me equally well. hmmmm
Yeah; It's been a loooooong time for me.

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#30 of 32 Old 08-07-2008, 09:05 PM
 
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But, see the article doesn't actually say that "bigger heads = smarter".

What it says is:
"The study found that women had about 85% of their IQ-related brain matter—both white and gray—located in the brain's frontal lobes. Comparatively, nearly all of the IQ-related gray matter in men is found equally between the frontal lobes and the parietal lobes (located behind the frontal lobe).
Well my daughter's head is fairly typically shaped while my son's head is shaped like an egg I call the part of his head projecting well behind his neck (in an overhead or side view) the golf part of his brain. Perhaps since my kids are walking sex stereotypes I'm not far off.
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