Human psychometric intelligence can predict a number of important social and academic outcomes. Substantial parts of the variances of human intelligence and the brain volume supporting those abilities are explained by environmental factors, and during childhood, human brains have higher plasticity and also 60% of variance of intelligence that is explained by environmental factors. Here, we review the representative environmental factors known to affect human intellectual development during each developmental stage. We describe what is (and what is not) being investigated to determine how these factors affect human brain development through analyses of volumetrical and cortical structures. In conclusion, environmental factors that affect children's intellectual development lead to three patterns of brain structural change. The first is global change in the brain structure, observed more often in the earlier phase of development. The second is structural changes concentrated in the medial prefrontal and adjacent areas and medial temporal areas, which are likely to be induced by stress in many cases. The third is sporadic region-specific change, likely to be primarily caused by use-dependent plasticity of the areas that is often observed in the later phase of development. These changes may underlie the alterations in children's intellectual development that is induced by environmental factors.
- environmental factors
- improvement of cognitive function