Chimpanzee intelligence is heritable.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hopkins, William D; Russell, Jamie L; Schaeffer, Jennifer
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Curr Biol
Volume: 24
Issue: 14
Pagination: 1649-52
Date Published: 2014 Jul 21
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1879-0445
Keywords: Animals, Cognition, Female, Intelligence, Intelligence tests, Learning, Male, Pan troglodytes, Principal Component Analysis

The role that genes play in human intelligence or IQ has remained a point of significant scientific debate dating back to the time of Galton [1]. It has now become increasingly clear that IQ is heritable in humans, but these effects can be modified by nongenetic mechanisms [2-4]. In contrast to human IQ, until recently, views of learning and cognition in animals have largely been dominated by the behaviorist school of thought, originally championed by Watson [5] and Skinner [6]. A large body of accumulated research now demonstrates a variety of cognitive abilities in nonhuman animals and challenges traditional behaviorist interpretations of performance [7, 8]. This, in turn, has led to a renewed interest in the role that social and biological factors might play in explaining individual and phylogenetic differences in cognition [9]. Specifically, aside from early attempts to selectively breed for learning skills in rodents [10-12], studies examining the role that genetic factors might play in individual variation in cognitive abilities in nonhuman animals, particularly nonhuman primates, are scarce. Here, we utilized a modified Primate Cognitive Test Battery [13] in conjunction with quantitative genetic analyses to examine whether cognitive performance is heritable in chimpanzees. We found that some but not all cognitive traits were significantly heritable in chimpanzees. We further found significant genetic correlations between different dimensions of cognitive functioning, suggesting that the genes that explain the variability of one cognitive trait might also explain that of other cognitive traits.

DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.076
Alternate Journal: Curr. Biol.