Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Goodbye, IQ Tests: Brain Imaging Predicts Intelligence Levels 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-random-internet-sites-already-tell-me-i'm-a-genius dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Research from Washington University in St. Louis has identified variations in brain scans that they believe identify portions of the brain that are responsible for intelligence (abstract). As suspected (and as explained by cartoons) brain size does play a small role; they said that brain size accounts for 6.7 percent of variance in intelligence. Recent research has placed the brain's prefrontal cortex, a region just behind the forehead, as providing for 5 percent of the variation in intelligence between people. The research from Washington University targets the left prefrontal cortex, and the strength of neural connections that it has to the rest of the brain. They think these differences account for 10 percent of differences in intelligence among people. The study is the first to connect those differences to intelligence in people."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Goodbye, IQ Tests: Brain Imaging Predicts Intelligence Levels

Comments Filter:
  • The question is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:39PM (#40846105)
    The question is, do the excess connections cause intelligence, or does working the brain cause the excess connections?
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:42PM (#40846169) Homepage Journal

      The question is, do the excess connections cause intelligence, or does working the brain cause the excess connections?

      Seems to me the opinion of science is having ability isn't the same as keeping it sharp -- performing Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, etc, keep your mind in training, same as physical exercise does for heart, muscle and liver.

    • The question you're missing: is there a difference?

      • by bunratty (545641) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:54PM (#40846381)
        Yes. If you could undergo a procedure that creates more the the neuronal connections that are correlated with intelligence, would you become more intelligent? I suppose you would, but the question really is, "How much more intelligent would it make you?" In other words, are there other brain differences that account for the increase in intelligence, such as chemical levels or the speed of neurons? Likewise, if you did exercises to increase your intelligence, would they increase the neuronal connections?
      • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:57PM (#40846423)

        One implies being intelligent is just luck in the bilogy dice roll. The other implies you can change your intelligence through some sort of effort.
         

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          testing and our understanding indicate both are the case, you can be genetically gifted but you can also improve what you have. Lying on a sofa eating junk food and watching entertainment on the boob tube is not one of the self-improvement procedures.

        • by ChatHuant (801522)

          One implies being intelligent is just luck in the bilogy dice roll. The other implies you can change your intelligence through some sort of effort.

          Prof Nemur said but why did you want to lern to reed and spell in the frist place. I tolld him because all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb and my mom always tolld me to try and lern just like Miss Kinnian tells me but its very hard to be smart and even when I lern something in Miss Kinnians class at the school I ferget alot.

          Dr Strauss rote some things on a peice of paper and prof Nemur talkd to me very sereus. He said you know Charlie we are not shure how this experamint will werk on pepu

    • Why couldn't it be both?

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:00PM (#40846459)

      The question is, do the excess connections cause intelligence, or does working the brain cause the excess connections?

      Twin studies give very strong evidence for the former. IQ scores for adopted children correlate much stronger with their biological parents than with their adoptive parents. But there could be a feedback effect as well: intelligent people are more likely to enjoy puzzles and engage in brain stimulating activities, which may cause the gap between them and dumb people to widen even further.

       

      • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:49PM (#40847243)
        Just remember that IQ doesn't include all of what people conventionally regard as "intelligence" - for example, knowledge. Even if your IQ isn't as high as another person's, you might be more motivated and work harder at obtaining knowledge, and wind up knowing more and being more productive than they are. (Of course in a large population people with higher IQ will have more knowledge on average since it is easier for them to attain, but averages are not deterministic for individuals - through effort you may become an outlier within your cohort).
        • The problem is that what people conventionally regard as "intelligence" is not intelligence at all. Intelligence is related to potential, not use. Warping the meaning of a word to give value by association to other less desirable traits undermine the objective value of the word and makes it pointless in the long run.
          • by SolitaryMan (538416) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:29PM (#40848567) Homepage Journal
            If you have higher intelligence you get more experience points for completing the same quest or killing the same amount of creatures.
      • by Carewolf (581105)

        I thought the twin studies have shown both: In pre-teenage years they are most correlated with their biological parents, in their teenage years with their adopted parents and their social groups. If they receive a short education their biological parents keep a strong corrolation, but as they receive a longer education this corrolation diminishes.

        • by EllisDees (268037) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:18PM (#40849179)

          Actually, I believe the opposite is true.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ

          "There are some family effects on the IQ of children, accounting for up to a quarter of the variance. However, adoption studies show that by adulthood adoptive siblings aren't more similar in IQ than strangers, while adult full siblings show an IQ correlation of 0.6. Conventional twin studies reinforce this pattern: monozygotic (identical) twins raised separately are highly similar in IQ (0.86), more so than dizygotic (fraternal) twins raised together (0.6) and much more than adoptive siblings (~0.0)."

    • The answer is... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior (537106) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:35PM (#40847045) Homepage Journal

      The answer to your question is: it depends.

      "Intelligence" has two separate and distinct meanings in colloquial English. It can mean the ease and speed of comprehension, or it can mean the total amount of knowledge a person has.

      Working the brain will cause it to make more connections, and some of these connections translate in an abstract way to other topics. Thus, a Chemistry major might be able to pick up cooking more easily, or a farmer's son might make a better cartographer.

      In some sense, the brain learns "patterns", and there are only so many patterns in the world. For example: once you get a deep understanting of exponential functions, you start to see them in the real world. Compound interest is an exponential function, for example.

      Hence, gaining more connections can translate into an increase in faster understanding and comprehension of other things - they are "similar" to other things you've seen.

      The other side of the question has to do with learning original patterns. This is based on fundamental processes in the brain and is all balled up with information and complexity theory, as well as motivation and perceived value.

      There are at least 2 genes known to confer a general increase in intelligence, so it seems likely that the fundamental processes are more or less efficient depending on the genetic makeup.

      There is also abundant evidence that the environment plays an overwhelming role in the brain's development at the current time, and in the current culture. The 2 genes mentioned are predictors of success and intelligence, but there are better predictors based on parental choices (how the child was raised) and random luck (being in the right place at the right time).

      So even if you don't happen to have those 2 genes, you can become highly intelligent by working harder.

      So back to your question: working the brain causes more connections, and by one mechanism these connections will be perceived as an increase in intelligence. Without exposure to information or variation in environment, there will be fewer connections.

      OTOH, there is a genetic component which will cause more connections and a higher intelligence from the same data, all else being equal.

      • by fredprado (2569351) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:02PM (#40847391)
        The amount of knowledge a person has is called ... err... 'knowledge'. Intelligence has nothing to do with it. Using the word to define knowledge levels is just a misuse of the word.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:40PM (#40846131) Homepage Journal

    But what about your Wisdom?

    Seems a better measure than how fast you can perform math, patern recognition, etc.

    Thanks to AD&D I learned about the importance of balance Int with Wis

    • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:47PM (#40846231)
      Wisdom is generally considered the collective experiences of a person, and how those experiences influence a person's approach to later decisions.

      Wisdom would be gained by discovering the effect of fire by putting your finger in it. Intelligence would be testing the effect of fire on something less critical than your finger in order to discover its nature.
      • by ddxexex (1664191) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:50PM (#40846291)

        I assume you haven't heard the adage that goes "A fool learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the fool's mistake"

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by maxwell demon (590494)

          I assume you haven't heard the adage that goes "A fool learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the fool's mistake"

          In other words, when there are no fools around the wise man doesn't learn anything at all. :-)

        • most of the fools I know don't learn from their mistakes

        • I like better the version of it that goes like this: "Wise man leans from mistakes of others. Intelligent man learns from his own mistakes. Fool never learns"
      • "Intelligence would be testing the effect of fire on something less critical than your finger in order to discover its nature."

        Yes, exactly. Like watching carefully when someone ELSE puts their finger in the fire.

      • Wisdom would be gained by discovering the effect of fire by putting your finger in it.

        No; Wisdom would be gained by noting the effect of fire on your finger, and learning a lesson from it. "Discovering the effect" is akin to learning, which is but a path to Wisdom.

      • by bitt3n (941736)

        Wisdom would be gained by discovering the effect of fire by putting your finger in it. Intelligence would be testing the effect of fire on something less critical than your finger in order to discover its nature.

        so, like, someone else's finger?

      • by Ryanrule (1657199)

        I agree, you touch the fire for me.

      • Oblig (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pr0t0 (216378) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:34PM (#40847021)

        Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
        Wisdom is knowing not to put it in fruit salad.

        • Prrrrrrretty sure the first one is knowledge. Can we fire whoever wrote that and get a do-over? Maybe something like:

          Intelligence is predicting that the crew of the USS Voyager will have trouble escaping their current predicament because of complications resulting from their method of time travel before said complications are revealed.
          Wisdom is knowing the show's ratings are tanking.

        • "Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit."

          Nope, intelligence is knowing history, that it is BOTH, and contested.

          "Botanically, a tomato is a fruit: the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant. However, the tomato has a much lower sugar content than other fruits, and is therefore not as sweet. Typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal, rather than at dessert, it is considered a vegetable for most culinary uses. One exception is that tomatoes are treated as a fruit in h

        • Intelligence helps you to get out of a tough spot.

          Wisdom helps you to avoid it in the first place.

    • by Aardpig (622459)

      No, wisdom (or "common sense") is the consolation prize people award themselves when they're clearly not as intelligent as I am.

      • by bjdevil66 (583941)
        Don't forget your Charisma - 3
    • by bjdevil66 (583941)

      Intelligence is knowing that someone posted something incorrect in an internet forum.

      Wisdom is knowing whether or not to post the reply.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      The best definition I've seen of intelligence is the following: "Intelligence is the ability to reach correct conclusions from incomplete information."
    • Wisdom comes from teeth. Specific teeth for that.
  • Intelligence is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by sycodon (149926)

    ...what you do and accomplish, not what you are.

    • by shadowrat (1069614) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:46PM (#40846223)
      yeah, but now we could quantify how much intelligence a person is wasting.
    • by bitt3n (941736)

      ...what you do and accomplish, not what you are.

      sounds like a commercial for nike pocket protectors

    • So did Bobby Fischer suddenly become unintelligent when he stopped playing chess?

      • by sycodon (149926)

        No, but his accomplishments demonstrated his intelligence.

        If he had never learned to play, never did play, nor did anything else that demonstrated his intelligence, then in reality, he wasn't.

        I do not dispute that they may have or will in the future be able to determine someone's potential, but it will be a crude measurement and entirely pointless as potential is worth exactly worth squat until realized.

        I DO question this seemingly incessant need on the part of people to categorize and label people as smart

        • I do not dispute that they may have or will in the future be able to determine someone's potential, but it will be a crude measurement and entirely pointless as potential is worth exactly worth squat until realized.

          Not entirely pointless. Is it worth the resources to extensively educate somebody that has very little potential?

          • by sycodon (149926)

            Yes, it is.

            And, I shutter to think that someday people could be singled out and told they "are not worth it".

        • Lots of intelligent people don't accomplish much for a variety of reasons, you just don't know who they are.

    • by Feyshtey (1523799)
      Some of the smartest people I've met make it a point to stay well clear of the rat race where we are hell bent to achieve and accomplish. Couple that with the truth in the old adage, "Work smarter, not harder.", and your definition begins to fail.
  • As half of the random sample tested complains that it doesn't give the the correct values, using some lame ideological argument, due to their misunderstanding of the science. while the other half seem rather smug.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      I don't believe my IQ should be as high as I test at. Should I be smug, or complain that it doesn't give the correct values?

    • Rather, half the random sample contests the results, claiming that the scientific process is not yet refined enough.

      A person will believe or disbelieve anything, as long as it upholds their precious ego.

  • by Lev13than (581686) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:46PM (#40846217) Homepage

    Unless the MRI can show the brain as a series of miniature illustrations [uh.edu], these guys are about 121 years late to the game. But maybe that's just my approbativeness showing...

    • That image is obviously incorrect - no place for 'sex'.

      This [krapuul.nl] is a more modern, and IMHO, more correct image.

  • Hello Phrenology (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Ha, and you thought it was just psuedo science.

  • by emilper (826945) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:48PM (#40846263)

    ... ambition, perseverance, drive and patience ?

    • It sounds like you are looking for (roughly) what they call 'executive function'. Also frontal cortex, according to the present state of the research.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:50PM (#40846293)
    Seems like a pretty big gap... they're saying they've identified 3 factors that together make up (if they can be believed) about 21.7% of the "variation in intelligence". So where's the other 78.3%?

    I'm not criticizing their results. Maybe they are correct. But it still isn't saying a hell of a lot.
    • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:54PM (#40846373)

      Well if that is true they are already more accurate than IQ tests.

    • Genes, nutrition, education, prenatal care, and hormones are all well-known contributing factors.

    • Seems like a pretty big gap... they're saying they've identified 3 factors that together make up (if they can be believed) about 21.7% of the "variation in intelligence". So where's the other 78.3%?

      That's the nurture part, e.g. upbringing, economic background, schooling, family support, etc.

    • by slew (2918)

      My guess, current measures of intelligence seem to attempt to measure more knowledge than problem solving and cognitive association strategies. In this context knowledge might be simply considered "memo-ized" versions of problem solving and association strategies from other people.

      As a more discussed example, consider the well-trodden "chinese room" thought experiment. Knowlege (or a simulation of intelligence) is likely stored in a brain in a certain way. This may be more efficient or less efficient, bu

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:51PM (#40846305)

    I still prefer my method of estimating other people's IQ by correcting their spelling errors.

  • I know that guy. (Score:3, Informative)

    by FilmedInNoir (1392323) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:53PM (#40846359)
    I've heard of Todd Braver before. He has done some interesting work on how digital devices are "rotting" our brains.
    Not sure I agree with this detour into creepy eugenics territory though.
    • I've heard of Todd Braver before. He has done some interesting work on how digital devices are "rotting" our brains.

      Not sure I agree with this detour into creepy eugenics territory though.

      Anybody who isn't actively pretending that everything we've observed in several thousand years of animal selective breeding(along with more recent statistical and genetic work on heritability of various things) somehow magically doesn't have implications is arguably already there...

      It only really gets 'creepy' when you start planning 'eugenic unions of superior types' or fire up the ovens.

  • At last, my intelligence will be measured automatically by some funny tool, without any effort from my side....
    Wait a minute, this actually does not make any sense....
    Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr, sorry? What? You say my IQ is 300? Oh, ok, now, i just wonder how to open this door with my iPhone!!!
  • When I was 10, longer ago than most of you have been alive, my mother regaled me with a tale that Einstein's brain had 2x the number of convolutions.

      This was before they figured out that had something to do with it. Whatever happened to that?

  • by nukenerd (172703) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:37PM (#40847081)
    When I went to university, I thought I might find people mostly with similar opinions (politics etc) to myself, being of the same IQ group. Up until then I had always thought most people around me had plainly idiotic opinions and I had put it down to their being a bit low on brainpower. In fact I found the others at uni (who we can assume were all of significantly higher IQ than average) had the same range of idiotic opinions (IMHO) as people generally.

    Surveys have shown that the distribution of political, ethical and religious opinions tends to be the same whatever the IQ group. I find this strange.

    Take the infamous Mrs Thatcher. I can recognise that she was a very intelligent woman but at the same time stupid in many things. Like she thought that by privatising industries and selling the shares to the public (cheap), the British people would become shareholders in large numbers - a "shareholding democracy" - and we would all then clamour for more efficiency in those industries as shareholders. What happened is that we bought those shares and then promptly sold them again (mostly to foreign enterprises as it turned out - a large part of UK rail freight is now owned by the *nationalised* German Railways!). The point is that most people with any sense could have told her that would happen - why could someone so intelligent not see it herself? Just one example of my point.
    • by Xiver (13712)
      You'll see it over and over again. People believe what they want to believe and what they want to believe is often what is in their best interest to believe. Don't get me wrong, people do not set out to close their minds to opposing points of view, but it usually takes an overabundance of evidence by a trusted party to convince anyone to change their minds, no matter how intelligent they are. As a corollary; the longer someone holds a particular view the more difficult it is for that person to change tha
    • It appears that hindsight isn't related to IQ either.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      Like she thought that by privatising industries and selling the shares to the public (cheap), the British people would become shareholders in large numbers

      I think it is more precise to say that Thatcher sought privatization to raise productivity in those industries (which was achieved), to seek immediate cash to compensate for tax cuts (also achieved), and to achieve longer run political changes by separating government and labor - in her words "eroding the corrosive and corrupting effects of socialism" (p

    • It's called not thinking outside the box. AKA laws of unintended consequences. We've all been guilty of making similar mistakes in that an original idea seems brilliant at all angles accept for one. The one angle you never knew existed. The one angle that's crucial and ultimately determines the outcome of the idea.

      Now imagine entire governments doing this with the laws they legislate.

    • by bitt3n (941736)

      When I went to university, I thought I might find people mostly with similar opinions (politics etc) to myself, being of the same IQ group. Up until then I had always thought most people around me had plainly idiotic opinions and I had put it down to their being a bit low on brainpower. In fact I found the others at uni (who we can assume were all of significantly higher IQ than average) had the same range of idiotic opinions (IMHO) as people generally. Surveys have shown that the distribution of political, ethical and religious opinions tends to be the same whatever the IQ group. I find this strange. Take the infamous Mrs Thatcher. I can recognise that she was a very intelligent woman but at the same time stupid in many things. Like she thought that by privatising industries and selling the shares to the public (cheap), the British people would become shareholders in large numbers - a "shareholding democracy" - and we would all then clamour for more efficiency in those industries as shareholders. What happened is that we bought those shares and then promptly sold them again (mostly to foreign enterprises as it turned out - a large part of UK rail freight is now owned by the *nationalised* German Railways!). The point is that most people with any sense could have told her that would happen - why could someone so intelligent not see it herself? Just one example of my point.

      There is an argument to be made that foreign ownership of local firms is not necessarily a bad thing [economist.com]. I find your 'this happened and because I think it's bad therefore the people who caused it must never have considered the possibility it would happen' argument to be problematic.

  • that people can start posting Internet Brain Imaging that says they are above average now too?
  • Why don't they just do a contextual IQ instead? Answer survey questions like do you drive a Kia? Do you buy scratch off lottery tickets? Do you believe the moon landing was faked? Do you own an emachines computer? I guarantee they could get accurate to within 5 points.
  • Right... Even if the scan gives results that are comparable to traditional testing, I don't think they are going to replace the traditional tests any time soon. At least, not until the price high tech medical scans becomes competitive with the price of pencils and paper.

  • by nut (19435) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:43PM (#40847945) Homepage

    People have been trying to measure intelligence for well over a hundred years now, but I have yet to see anybody precisely and fully define exactly what it is they are measuring.

    And don't say IQ - the only thing IQ tests measure is the ability to do IQ tests. Read up on their history. There is nothing scientific about their origin.

    • IQ is interesting. Nobody, especially researchers, thinks that it directly measures intelligence. But it does correlate with many outcomes that might be expected to be associated with intelligence: level of educational attainment, income, religious beliefs, etc. So you're right, nobody knows what they are measuring, but it's something that related to intelligence. For scientific purposes having an indirect, but quantifiable, metric is better than no metric at all.
  • I didn't notice a definition of intelligence and wonder how they define it. ("Well we know it when we see it.")

    I think potential intelligence is the ability to provide high quality genes (in the adaptive sense) to the next generation. Realized intelligence then would mean one has already done so but I suspect that only a much later generation would be able to apply the classification with any accuracy.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

Working...