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Science

Predicting IQ With a Simple Visual Test 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the forest-for-the-trees dept.
New submitter trendspotter writes "Scientists at the University of Rochester found a unique way to measure high IQ and IQ of the brain in general just by studying individuals and their abilities to filter out noise in images (abstract). The results of a visual test where people were told to quickly detect movements showed similar IQ results as a classic intelligence test. 'The relationship between IQ and motion suppression points to the fundamental cognitive processes that underlie intelligence, the authors write. The brain is bombarded by an overwhelming amount of sensory information, and its efficiency is built not only on how quickly our neural networks process these signals, but also on how good they are at suppressing less meaningful information. ... The researchers point out that this vision test could remove some of the limitations associated with standard IQ tests, which have been criticized for cultural bias.'"
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Predicting IQ With a Simple Visual Test

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  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:11PM (#43814421) Journal

    Yay, it's an IQ thread.

    Cue bragging about IQ followed by arguments about whether IQ measures intelligence.

    making popcorn. brb.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rot26 (240034)
      Now that's funny, I don't care who you are.
      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Friday May 24, 2013 @03:03PM (#43815737) Homepage

        Now that's funny, I don't care who you are.

        Sorry, but this was a secret IQ test- and sadly, you just failed it. There was a hidden pattern within the letters in the original comment, which held a secret message along the lines of "Psst... don't admit this is funny, or you'll look stupid". However, only people with reasonably high IQs are able to spot it.

        Also, if anyone else says I'm talking rubbish and it's not there... it's okay. No-one said we all had to be geniuses! (^_^)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My IQ is over 200. One of those eHarmony IQ tests told me so.

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:22PM (#43814597) Homepage

      IQ doesn't measure intelligence. I should know; I've got an incredibly high IQ. ;)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have an incredibly wide IQ, I can vouch for this guy.

      • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:49PM (#43814957)

        But neither of your IQs are as deep, shapely or green as mine.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        You are being funny but I've known guys with a couple of degrees that get taken by used car salesmen. The problem is there is "book smarts" and "street smarts" and just because you have one does NOT mean you have the other and in today's society you really do need both.

        Now as far as the test in TFA? You'd probably need to give them an eye exam before giving them this "test" as that would be hard as hell to do if you didn't have 20/20 or an up to date prescription on your glasses, but on a positive note at

        • I have a theory: playing football outside trains your peripheral motion perception (1) [nih.gov] and reading trains your foveal motion perception. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out how these activities might correlate with intelligence.

          Full text, btw: http://www.bcs.rochester.edu/people/Duje/papers/13_Melnick_IQ_CB.pdf [rochester.edu]

    • I was able to see them all no problem, regardless of size. I guess that means I'm really smart? Or that the test was a crock of shit. Could be that.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        no, it means you are average or lower. You should have read the article. Spouting off without understand is another indicator of you mediocre intelllegence

      • If you saw them all with no problem, you're probably not exceptionally intelligent. Smart and not-so smart people see the small ones. The very smart tend to miss the larger moving images. Reading comprehension is available at a community college near you - and you don't even have to be extremely smart to take it!

        Next question - does this mean that the assholes who tend to pull out in front of other vehicles - especially motorcycles - are the SMART ONES? Alright - I can see that, maybe. Very intelligent

    • They are just completely unable to take this test. I always had my suspicions...

    • Yay, it's an IQ thread.

      Cue bragging about IQ followed by arguments about whether IQ measures intelligence.

      making popcorn. brb.

      I'm so smart, I know better than to reply to sarcastic trolls. Oh, wait...

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Well if it doesn't that this finding has quite a shaky basis, so I would think that it's appropriate.

    • Yay, it's an IQ thread.

      Cue bragging about IQ followed by arguments about whether IQ measures intelligence.

      Did you expect Slashdotters to brag about penis size and whether it indicates their worth as a person?

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lightknight (213164) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:11PM (#43814439) Homepage

    Wouldn't visual defects, such as myopia, or an excess of floaters, impact the results of this exam?

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:21PM (#43814581) Journal

      No, they just point out that only stupid people get those problems. Obviously. It's Science, don't question it.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      If only there was some kind of way to adjust the results of a study for various kinds of effects.

      Now where's my sarcasm test?

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      Not that the real test is administered over youtube, I'm sure.

      But the fun little sample test? Some people are going to get the wrong idea.

      flash versions / or html5, codecs, monitor quality, machine speeds.

      And if smart people are so good at seeing fast stuff, why are they usually so bad at sports? Hey, don't look at me like that. Stereotypes are a great time-saver!

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

      by dubbreak (623656) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:43PM (#43814849)
      Well yeah, but the test is a predictor of IQ not an IQ test (i.e. it's not supposed to directly measure IQ). They found a strong correlation between certain results (total reaction time, difference between large and small image reaction time etc) and IQ. It won't work in all cases but appears to be a good predictor. Hence the term predictor.
    • Yes it would. The test measures the ability to process inputs. If you have faulty inputs, no amount of processing will overcome.

      So this would be a poor test for somebody who is blind. That being said, any IQ test that requires you to read plain text (i.e. not braille) would fail for blind people. However, there are other tests that do work for the blind.

      However, it would work for somebody who has myopia (if corrected with glasses). It may affect somebody with floaters depending on the (I have not heard anyb

      • Floaters generally don't affect acuity by themselves, but they can be symptoms of something else that would, like keratoconus.

        For the purposes of a motion-detection test, though, having moving objects in your field of vision could be a problem.

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      or an excess of floaters

      Apparently, that's actually a sign of a healthy diet (no, seriously)...

    • by Creepy (93888)

      I imagine with moderate to severe myopia (like me) you wouldn't see the lines at all. With corrective lenses, the results were as expected for me, so I don't think this is a factor (with vision correction).

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by joe_frisch (1366229) on Friday May 24, 2013 @02:33PM (#43815443)

      Yes, as would any sort of issue with ability to focus, or eye irritation that makes you blink more often than average.

      Then look at the graph (the one in the article with blue and red dots). That is a TERRIBLE correlation. It might be significant from a purely statistical argument, but the correlation is so weak that it would be difficult to eliminate other factors.

      The lower graph in the article shows a stronger correlation of IQ vs suppression of moving objects. On more thinking though, that is a HUGE range of IQs and still only a modest correlation. . Isn't it likely that people with an IQ of 140 will understand the instructions better than those with an IQ of 80. Even if there is a real correlation, it looks like the error bars on predicting IQ will have a 40 point spread! Useless.

      All this assumes IQ is a good measure, something I question since intelligence appears to be a combination of factors (memory, 3D visualization, quick thinking, abstract math etc) and probably needs to be represented by a vector, not a scalar measurement.

  • No no ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:15PM (#43814483) Homepage

    That's eye-Q, not IQ. :-P

  • by srobert (4099) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:16PM (#43814497)

    Now if we could just find a correlation between IQ and intelligence, we'd easily be able to sort out which humans are worth saving.
    A visual test eliminates the cultural bias ... except the one against the blind.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      We need additional measurements... not just IQ and intelligence. We need maturity, wisdom and sociopathy measurments as well.

      These days we put a lot of weight behind a person's "success" however that may be measured (most often in dollars) and presume it is a sign of superiority -- ostensibly intelligence or ability. But then I see those same people and often see them as failures as they lack some truly important qualities that would make them great people.

      • by PRMan (959735)

        Yes. This is an excellent. I can't wait to see the sociopathy test:

        You see a rabbit get hit by a car in the street. You immediately:

        1. Check to see if the rabbit is OK.

        2. See if the rabbit is owned by a small child and try to comfort them.

        3. Free rabbit stew!

        4. See if anyone caught it on video and immediately send them DMCA takedown notices.

        5. Pull out a gun and shoot the driver of the car.

        • I've been playing far too many FPS. I was reading #2 "See if the rabbit is owned by a small child" and before finishing the sentence started wondering why a little kid would be out there teabagging a dead rabbit corpse.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      Oh yes, if only IQ predicted economic, academic, or social success with any degree of accuracy...

      Wait? It does?? With a substantial but not perfect correlation? Well, who could've guessed.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Being blind is a cultural thing now?

  • ..therefore I have to support my limited brain power with an adblocker.
  • Try it first (Score:5, Informative)

    by hammeraxe (1635169) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:16PM (#43814509)

    Try the test before reading the article:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qxt2Uo_GuXI [youtube.com]

    • Re:Try it first (Score:5, Informative)

      by Deflagro (187160) on Friday May 24, 2013 @02:14PM (#43815217)

      I did as you instructed and felt pretty dumb because I realized the big ones were hard to figure out. Smaller ones were simple but I didn't even notice any movement on the first big one. Then I read the article and realized what it was testing. Those who read the study before taking it would definitely be biased I think.

    • The test video on youtube is biased against people who have short term memory problems or who are otherwise inattentive, such as kids with ADHD. However the traditional test is likely to be bias against ADHD children as well.

  • So, over the past 5+ years, people have been migrating away from high quality cameras, and high quality TV sets, to the crappy photo sensors and highly compressed tiny screens of your average smartphone.

    Does that mean that people are getting smarter?

  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Wild Norseman (1404891) <tw DOT norseman AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:24PM (#43814617)

    The brain is bombarded by an overwhelming amount of sensory information, and its efficiency is built not only on how quickly our neural networks process these signals, but also on how good they are at suppressing less meaningful information. ...

    Hrm.

    I don't follow reddit or twitter, so that obviously means I'm quite a bit intelligent already, but on the other hand I do post to slashdot, so maybe my IQ isn't as high as I first thought.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:24PM (#43814633)

    Something I have been saying for a long time.

    IQ as measured today is intelligence applied to details, core structures, _small_ puzzles, etc. It does not measure whether people can identify context, make fuzzy trade-offs, find what is important and what not in complex structures, etc. The testing is also fundamentally broken as it is done under time pressure. In practice, somebody that can figure out a complex problem in 1 week is about as capable as somebody that needs 2 weeks and not far behind is somebody that needs 10 weeks. People really fall into the classes "can do it in reasonable time" and "cannot do it, regardless of time available". Those that can do, but need a lot longer than others that can do are quite rare.

    I also have met quite a few people with high IQ, but really low "wisdom" scales that could not use their intelligence effectively as a result. This also explains why the IQ is not a reliable predictor of future success in life, as for example Mensa found out.

  • by flibbidyfloo (451053) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:26PM (#43814649)

    If the test "showed similar IQ results as a classic intelligence test", and the classic test is "biased", wouldn't that mean that this test is biased? Or would it have to mean that the classic test is *not* biased?

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      If the test "showed similar IQ results as a classic intelligence test", and the classic test is "biased", wouldn't that mean that this test is biased? Or would it have to mean that the classic test is *not* biased?

      It's not a 100% correlation.
      I'm sure the difference will shed some light on how and who is biased against in the test.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:31PM (#43814711) Journal

    I am a member of a high IQ "society" that discrimatinates against the lowest 99.9% of the general population. Yet, I would do very poorly on this test as my visual processing is poor. I excel in abstract reasoning but do poorly in other areas.

    What is intelligence? What is IQ? What is it good for? All good questions.

    • I am a member of a high IQ "society" that discrimatinates [sic] against the lowest 99.9% of the general population. Yet, I would do very poorly on this test as my visual processing is poor. I excel in abstract reasoning but do poorly in other areas.

      What is intelligence? What is IQ? What is it good for? All good questions.

      Those are indeed good questions. Since you're saying you don't have a good answer for them, I'm curious about what you believed the benefit of a high-IQ society was when you decided to join one.

      • I am a member of a high IQ "society" that discrimatinates [sic] against the lowest 99.9% of the general population. Yet, I would do very poorly on this test as my visual processing is poor. I excel in abstract reasoning but do poorly in other areas.

        What is intelligence? What is IQ? What is it good for? All good questions.

        Those are indeed good questions. Since you're saying you don't have a good answer for them, I'm curious about what you believed the benefit of a high-IQ society was when you decided to join one.

        Their recruiters tell everyone that nerds always get the hot chicks.

    • Re:What is IQ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:55PM (#43815015) Journal

      The problem with IQ is most people don't understand what intelligence is.

      I've been able to measure a base IQ of around 130-135 on standardized IQ tests since I was 8. The tests were made for people over age 13 and the more likely deviation would be that my IQ is significantly higher than that. This is pretty dead-on: I'm actually extremely, ridiculously intelligent. I can break Mensa tests above 150.

      Taking this to a practical level, I rely very little on emotion and have very little cultural and social understanding (social understanding is measured in something called EQ). So, you'd think what? High IQ and no social ability... so, Stephen Hawking? Some genius locked in his room with nerd equipment, solving the problems of the universe. Sounds legit, right? Not quite.

      Most of the serious geniuses you'll meet have not just a high IQ, but also strong abstract reasoning: they turn ideas and goals into well-defined processes. They associate tools and information with problems, needs, and desires. More than that, they actually have a huge basis of domain knowledge--often in multiple domains--to work from.

      By contrast, I don't. My abstract reasoning is terrible and I'm fairly lazy. I latch onto information readily, but only as far as requires little effort and provides amusement. I can rattle off about a lot of stuff and generally I'm never wrong--because I talk about things I understand. People *think* I'm a genius because I understand just about any-fucking-thing you stick in front of me; yet functionally I operate like any person of normal intelligence, just with basic ability with a wider range of things.

      That's basically how intelligence works. Let's say you go to McDonalds and give the burned-out cashier a little pill that boosts their IQ to 135. What'll happen? Pretty much, he'll stand around feeling like something is 'off,' suddenly recognizing that there's a problem somewhere with the level of stupidity around him; but it won't be a massive, visible change, and it'll pass quickly. Without a huge basis of knowledge and experience, the important associations that highly intelligent people make simply don't happen. Suddenly being intelligent and not bothering to develop a huge basis of knowledge and experience doesn't make you a genius, and overall does nothing.

      That's not to say that your average 135-IQ semi-genius won't absolutely squash some 100-IQ norm if they both dive head-long into a mathematics and engineering program, of course. The guy with a 135 is going to cream you, he's going to sail through his classes easily and you're going to struggle and he'll put in less time and less effort and get better grades. But if he's going to just party all night and hook up with cheerleaders? Being a genius and neglecting your studies will get you passed by the slow kids, and in the end you'll babble some stupid shit just like your average redneck who didn't have the sheer brainpower to understand college.

      That's been my experience. I'll absorb information like a sponge, and I'll comprehend it immediately; I can take it as far as I care with some effort. Once I got out of high school, I realized that the effort needed in high school was "be present in class, not necessarily awake"; the effort required for higher education and understanding and for building high-level academic skills is ... quite a bit higher than I'd care to put in. So all these damn supergeniuses are way off my level, and I'm stuck in the back of the short bus.

      And that's why people don't believe in "Intelligence" and "IQ". They don't understand how it works. It's like your brain comes from Ikea--it might be the upper end model, but you still need to assemble it yourself and you might have pieces left over. I still have a bookshelf in pieces in my living room from 2 years ago.

      I've been ranking up in Go recently since I'm taking racetams and noopept. Inter-hemisphere communication is nice. There's all these people on racetams thinking

      • I've been able to measure a base IQ of around 130-135 on standardized IQ tests since I was 8. The tests were made for people over age 13 and the more likely deviation would be that my IQ is significantly higher than that.

        Either you're lying or someone lied to you. There is not a single respected, widely-used IQ test that has an age cutoff of 13. All the tests that are in use (and have been for the last few decades) are normed for kids as well and even when they weren't, they were never normed to age 13 and not below, they were normed to maybe age 16 as the low end cutoff.

        I'm not saying you're not smart or that everything else you said isn't right. I can't bring myself ot read the rest of your comment after this obviously

  • Granted, the population size of individuals with measured IQs above 150 is relatively small (about 1 in 1000), but it's a little bit misleading to consider people with IQs in the range below 140 as having "high IQ." 120-140 is "above average," certainly, but fairly common. Being more intelligent than someone scoring 80-100 doesn't automatically mean you have "high IQ." This study shows that intelligence correlates with a specific motion tracking task, but only in the studied IQ range due to the relative

  • Having read the article, I can see how this might sound snotty, but why wouldn't it be easier to detect motion in the small circle? There are more axes of motion than in the bigger view. The big view is almost purely left and right, but by virtue of being a circle, there's a much greater chance to perceive vertical motion as well. It seems like there is, in a sense, more motion to see in the smaller set.
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      The persons focus is smaller, any movement outside that focus doesn't get processed so results as noise.
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Friday May 24, 2013 @01:44PM (#43814879)

    Replace IQ? I think it's a stake in the heart of IQ testing. Being a champ at "Where's Waldo" is not a good predictor of problem solving, imagination, communication and knowledge retention, which are the only real measures of intelligence. Spot-checking pattern recognition skills doesn't tell us much about an individual, apart from "Wow, he matched that pattern he was familiar with because he grew up in the same society as the test designers pretty darn quick. Yup."

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well.. pure iq tests are used only by pretty much the same companies that use handwriting analysis...

      they pay handsomely for those analysis too. dimwits.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Maybe that's why where's waldo isn't an IQ test?

      You should probably look up what intelligence is.
      Communication? nope. imagination? debatable. knowledge retention? nope. Problem solving? can be but thre is a lot of other aspects as well. So you need to state problem solving withing the person experience.

  • I am doubtful (Score:5, Informative)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Friday May 24, 2013 @02:05PM (#43815117) Homepage Journal

    Much of the brain's visual processing can change dynamically with changes in environment.

    For example, a common experiment in college psych courses is to give a student glasses that flip the world upside-down. It takes a few days for the student's brain to adapt to the new inputs, and then they see the world normally (and revert after a few days w/o the glasses). Patients with macular degeneration can wear glasses that stretch-map the visual input around areas of missing vision (in the manner of a cylindrical mirror [uoguelph.ca]). After some time, they report seeing the world normally - their visual system has adapted and remapped the input.

    I wonder if the effect simply measures the amount of reading the subject does; in other terms, perhaps it's just measuring the amount of fine-focus eye training? What does the test show for people who play a lot of arcade games (shooters, especially ones that throw a lot of targets at you)? Or people who use a lot of visual perception in their daily lives?

    The article stated that the authors "tested for other possible explanations". Also, the correlation was at most 71%, note that flipping a coin is expected to correlate to around 50%. Their data [rochester.edu] seems to be awfully well clustered and the slope seems to be due to the outliers. The first study used 12 subjects, and the second only 53.

    I'm unconvinced. It could be promising, but I would like to see correlations from more data.

  • ???

  • by drew30319 (828970) on Friday May 24, 2013 @02:07PM (#43815159) Homepage Journal
    Not sure if anybody has already posted this, but if you'd like to read the article and lack access (and are unwilling to fork over $35) you can read it through the university's website for free: http://www.bcs.rochester.edu/people/Duje/papers/13_Melnick_IQ_CB.pdf [rochester.edu]
  • by Sir Realist (1391555) on Friday May 24, 2013 @02:11PM (#43815185)

    'The relationship between IQ and motion suppression points to the fundamental cognitive processes that underlie intelligence'

    Or, IQ tests don't test anything but pattern matching / the ability to filter noise in the first place.

    • by mc6809e (214243)

      Or, IQ tests don't test anything but pattern matching / the ability to filter noise in the first place.

      It's one thing to say IQ tests pattern matching and noise filtering. It's quite another to say IQ tests ONLY pattern matching and noise filtering.

  • That was a fairly easy test, not to mention that when you look at the graphs they show that there is only a rough correlation between IQ and the motion of the circles. All that test really proves is that you know left from right, anyone with the ability to visually separate out patterns will quickly rock the test. The standard IQ test is flawed, there is no doubt in that statement, but I don't think this test is any better.

    For an IQ test to work you first need to break down the learning style of the p
  • I prefer SQ (Score:3, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday May 24, 2013 @02:24PM (#43815329) Homepage Journal

    I find that the lower the IQ the less likely they are to have read the article before making some 'point' about the topic.

  • by AJWM (19027) on Saturday May 25, 2013 @05:35AM (#43820221) Homepage

    Most questions on a "classic intelligence test" (Stanford-Binet, Wechsler, etc) are ultimately pattern-recognition tests, albeit some classes of question (eg the verbal ones) require prior knowledge too. E.g., in the Wechsler tests, the "Perceptual Reasoning", "Working Memory" and "Processing Speed" subtests all include (or benefit from) some pattern extraction/recognition skill, only the "Verbal Comprehension" does not. Whether those tests actually measure those things, let alone "intelligence", is another question entirely. But if there's something in the brain's hardware or firmware that assists that visual processing, chances are it assists in the above tests too. (And yes, I recognize that with visual processing there's also a bunch that gets done in the hardware before the information ever gets to the higher levels.)

    Although as the saying goes, IQ is that thing which is measured by IQ tests, and may or may not have any bearing on intelligence. From personal observation, it certainly has no correlation with common sense.

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