Correlation among body height, intelligence, and brain gray matter volume in healthy children

Neuroimage. 2012 Jan 16;59(2):1023-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.08.092. Epub 2011 Sep 10.


A significant positive correlation between height and intelligence has been demonstrated in children. Additionally, intelligence has been associated with the volume of gray matter in the brains of children. Based on these correlations, we analyzed the correlation among height, full-scale intelligence quotient (IQ) and gray matter volume applying voxel-based morphometry using data from the brain magnetic resonance images of 160 healthy children aged 5-18 years of age. As a result, body height was significantly positively correlated with brain gray matter volume. Additionally, the regional gray matter volume of several regions such as the bilateral prefrontal cortices, temporoparietal region, and cerebellum was significantly positively correlated with body height and that the gray matter volume of several of these regions was also significantly positively correlated with full-scale intelligence quotient (IQ) scores after adjusting for age, sex, and socioeconomic status. Our results demonstrate that gray and white matter volume may mediate the correlation between body height and intelligence in healthy children. Additionally, the correlations among gray and white matter volume, height, and intelligence may be at least partially explained by the effect of insulin-like growth factor-1 and growth hormones. Given the importance of the effect of environmental factors, especially nutrition, on height, IQ, and gray matter volume, the present results stress the importance of nutrition during childhood for the healthy maturation of body and brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Organ Size
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity