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A team of scientists from Stanford University and KU Leuven has found 76 genes that can affect facial features and the brain’s variation. 

However, they didn’t find any genetic links between the cognitive ability and the face of a human. This means the study debunked numerous pseudoscientific beliefs about how you can use facial features to assess one’s intelligence.  

Professor Joanna Wysocka, the study’s senior author from KU Leuven’s Lab for Imaging Genetics, said that previous studies have already hinted at the genetic links between the brain and the shape of one’s face. However, it was based on scientific knowledge of rare conditions and model organisms. 

Identifying the 76 Genes 

The scientists used the same technique that Peter Claes used to identify the genes that determine one’s face shape and applied the same principle in their study. Claes said that they analyzed 3D face imagery in their study and then linked genetic information to several different data points on the faces to find correlations. 

Using UK Biobank’s database, which contains the MRI scans of about 20 000 people, the scientists measured all the brains and then concentrated on the folded external surfaces. They then linked the available genetic information to the images and found 472 gene locations that could affect how the brain is shaped.  

No Genetic Link Between Brain and Face Shape

Dr. Sahin Nagvi, the study’s first author from the School of Medicine at Stanford, said they located a genetic link between face shape and brain; however, it did not yield a connection to how one behaves and their cognitive ability. 

The scientists noted that no technology can currently measure a person’s behavior based on their facial structure. The study’s findings confirmed the pseudoscientific claims of such links not to be true. For example, aggression can’t be predicted based on one’s facial features using AI. But, not only is there no scientific foundation for this, it’s unethical as well.