Food Dreams

I think that food dreams might be the next big growth area for cognitive food studies. Both regular readers of the Thornapple Blog are now expecting me to launch into a tedious discussion of exactly what “cognitive food studies” could possibly mean, and I hate to disappoint them. The growing number of academic types who …

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Genetics, Cognitive Ability, and Education (conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko)

Genetics, Cognitive Ability, and Education (conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko) Further conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko concerning genetics of cognitive ability, implications for education policy, etc. See also earlier conversation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVqkvHpLfuQ Dunedin paper referenced in the video (polygenic score prediction of adult success for different SES groups): http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2016/09/genomic-prediction-of-adult-life.html Tweet

74 SNP hits from SSGAC GWAS

The SSGAC discovery of 74 SNP hits on educational attainment (EA) is finally published in Nature. Nature News article. EA was used in order to assemble as large a sample as possible (~300k individuals). Specific cognitive scores are only available for a much smaller number of individuals. But SNPs associated with EA are likely to …

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This is for PZ Myers

Scott Alexander (Slate Star Codex), Garrett Jones (Hive Mind), and Razib Khan (GNXP) alerted me (via Twitter) of this post by PZ Myers. Myers is both confused and insulting in his blog post, but I’ll refrain from ad hominem attacks, and just focus on the science. Myers seems to think that humans with much better …

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Cognitive Genomics Interview

This is a discussion with Cambridge University PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko. Topics covered include: genetics of cognition, group differences, genetic engineering. The NYC roundtable on genius she mentions is here. Blog readers may also be interested in this event at the 92nd Street Y (Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 8:15 pm, Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd …

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BBC interview with Robert Plomin

I recommend this BBC interview with Robert Plomin. Robert is a consummate gentleman and scholar, working in a field that inevitably attracts controversy. (Via Dominic Cummings.) Professor Robert Plomin talks to Jim Al-Khalili about what makes some people smarter than others and why he’s fed up with the genetics of intelligence being ignored. Born and …

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Expert Prediction: hard and soft

Jason Zweig writes about Philip Tetlock’s Good Judgement Project below. See also Expert Predictions, Perils of Prediction, and this podcast talk by Tetlock. A quick summary: good amateurs (i.e., smart people who think probabilistically and are well read) typically perform as well as or better than area experts (e.g., PhDs in Social Science, History, Government; …

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DNA Dreams at Harvard

This is a panel discussion of the documentary film DNA Dreams (see below), about BGI and its Cognitive Genomics Lab. DNA DREAMS Moderator: Dr. Evelynn Hammonds, Director of the Project on Race & Gender in Science & Medicine, Hutchins Center for African & African American Research/Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science Panelists include: (L …

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IQ prediction from structural MRI

These authors use machine learning techniques to build sparse predictors based on grey/white matter volumes of specific regions. Correlations obtained are ~ 0.7 (see figure). I predict that genomic estimators of this kind will be available once ~ 1 million genomes and cognitive scores are available for analysis. See also Myths, Sisyphus and g. MRI-Based …

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More GWAS hits for cognitive ability

More genome-wide significant associations between individual SNPs and cognitive ability from a sample of 50k individuals. See also First GWAS hits for cognitive ability. Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium (N=53 949) Nature Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 3 February 2015 doi: 10.1038/mp.2014.188 General …

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Genius (Nautilus Magazine)

The article excerpted below, in the science magazine Nautilus, is an introduction to certain ideas from my paper On the genetic architecture of intelligence and other quantitative traits. Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming (Nautilus, special issue: Genius) Genetic engineering will one day create the smartest humans who have ever lived. Lev Landau, a Nobelist and one of …

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Metabolic costs of human brain development

This paper quantifies the unusually high energetic cost of brain development in humans. Brain energy requirements and body-weight growth rate are anti-correlated in childhood. Given these results it would be surprising if nutritional limitations that prevented individuals from achieving their genetic potential in height didn’t also lead to sub-optimal cognitive development. Nutritional deprivation likely stunts …

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Neural Networks and Deep Learning 2

Inspired by the topics discussed in this earlier post, I’ve been reading Michael Nielsen’s online book on neural nets and deep learning. I particularly liked the subsection quoted below. For people who think deep learning is anything close to a solved problem, or anticipate a near term, quick take-off to the Singularity, I suggest they …

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Chimp intelligence is heritable

A natural place to look for alleles of large effect are the otherwise conserved (from mouse through chimp) variants that are different in humans. See The Genetics of Humanness and The Essential Difference. My guess (without checking the paper to see if they report it) is that test-retest correlation for chimps is well below the …

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Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China

The study below discusses a psychological/cognitive/personality gradient between N and S China, possibly driven by a history of wheat vs rice cultivation. Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China Explained by Rice Versus Wheat Agriculture (Science) Cross-cultural psychologists have mostly contrasted East Asia with the West. However, this study shows that there are major psychological differences within China. …

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Neanderthals dumb?

This figure is from the Supplement (p.62) of a recent Nature paper describing a high quality genome sequence obtained from the toe of a female Neanderthal who lived in the Altai mountains in Siberia. Interestingly, copy number variation at 16p11.2 is one of the structural variants identified in a recent deCODE study as related to …

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Another species, an evolution beyond man

  Readers might be interested in this interview I did, which is on the MIRI (Machine Intelligence Research Institute, in Berkeley) website. Some excerpts below. … I think there is good evidence that existing genetic variants in the human population (i.e., alleles affecting intelligence that are found today in the collective world population, but not …

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