The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, July 22, 2007

IQ and testosterone in children

When most people hear the word testosterone, they think of strength, power and virility. Images might come to mind of athletic muscular men and women might think of handsome chisel jawed figures. These are all, we are led to believe, positive images associated with testosterone - but is testosterone the undiluted "good" that we think it is?

We all know that too much testosterone can lead to an angry, violent disposition - as revealed in the recent murder-suicide by the well known wrestler, Chris Benoit, in whose body steroids were found. So testosterone has its dark side. Yet, there are other drawbacks to testosterone that are not widely known - indeed, some have only been recently observed.

Have a think about this: what would you think would be the influence of testosterone on IQ and intelligence in children? Would more testosterone mean a brighter child? Would less testosterone mean a dimmer child?

A varied group of scientists decided to answer this question and published their results in their paper: Intelligence and salivary testosterone levels in prepubertal children by
Daniela Ostatníková, Peter Celec, Zdeněk Putz, Július Hodosy, Filip Schmidt, Jolana Laznibatová and Matúš Kúdela.

Most of these researchers are from Comenius University in Bratislava in the Slovak Republic, hence their unfamiliar names.

Testosterone has long been believed to influence intellectual function - and determine the sex differences in cognitive abilities between genders. Their study sought to tease out the truth to these matters.

They took 284 prepubertal children aged 6 to 9 years old of both sexes and took samples of their salivary testosterone levels. The children formed three groups: 107 gifted children with IQs above 130; 100 children of average intelligence (IQ 70 to 130) and 77 mentally challenged/retarded children with IQs below 70.

Unexpectedly, a commonality was found between the low IQ children and the high IQ children. Both the low IQ and the high IQ children had LOW LEVELS OF TESTOSTERONE. The children with high levels of testosterone fell into the average range of intelligence. These differences were statistically significant.

There was no significant difference between the high IQ and low IQ groups' concentration of testosterone.

Please note that these results apply only to the boys: the girls showed no significant differences in testosterone between any of the groups.

The researchers did not offer an explanation as to why the low and high IQ groups gave the same result - nor why high testosterone should connote average intelligence. The matter needs further investigation.

I think these results are interesting and have application in our understanding of the world. High testosterone males are usually easy to recognize - but they are not usually outstanding intellectually - now we have a study that gives us an insight into the situation, even if it doesn't yet provide an explanation.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and seven months, and his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and no months, and Tiarnan, seventeen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:01 AM 


Blogger Charles Lin M.D. said...

Interesting article , I rememeber there was a research correlating children with autism with high levels of testosterone. I think we will find many more fascinating discoverys about testosterone in the next decade.

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oooo..that's why many excellent men are sissy..hehehe

6:35 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Sissy indeed. It seems to be a bit of a bind - you can be super-masculine without being a bit average in other ways. You can't have it all...

Best wishes

6:53 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Maybe you can't have it all, but there is some research suggesting that people who are more intelligent than average are also more physically attractive than average. This is unsurprising in the light of sexual selection.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Maybe you can't have it all, but there is some research suggesting that people who are more intelligent than average are also more physically attractive than average. This is unsurprising in the light of sexual selection.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

True, Mark. I have read this...that more intelligent people are more attractive - but this is NOT to do with testosterone, but simple factors of bone structure, health and appearance. They are NOT more masculine than average fact, less so. They are attractive for other reasons than pure muscularity, for instance.

6:56 PM  

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