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People differ greatly in all aspects of what is casually known as intelligence. The differences are apparent not only in school, from kindergarten to college, but also in the most ordinary circumstances: in the words people use and comprehend, in their differing abilities to read a map or follow directions, or in their capacities for remembering telephone numbers or figuring change. The variations in these specific skills are so common that they are often taken for granted. Yet what makes people so different? It would be reasonable to think that the environment is the source of differences in cognitive skills—that we are what we learn. It is clear, for example, that human beings are not born with a full vocabulary; they have to learn words. Hence, learning must be the mechanism by which differences in vocabulary arise among individuals. And differences in experience—say, in the extent to which parents model and encourage vocabulary skills or in the quality of language training provided by schools—must be responsible for individual differences in learning. Earlier in this century psychology was in fact dominated by environmental explanations for variance in cognitive abilities. More recently, however, most psychologists have begun to embrace a more balanced view: one in which nature and nurture interact in cognitive development. During the past few decades, studies in genetics have pointed to a substantial role for heredity in molding the components of intellect, and researchers have even begun to track down the genes involved in cognitive function. These findings do not refute the notion that environmental factors shape the learning process. Instead they suggest that differences in people’s genes affect how easily they learn.