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Intelligence researchers have discovered that people with bigger brains are smarter than their smaller-brained counterparts, according to a news release published by the Virginia Commonwealth
University, Richmond, VA on June 17, 2005
“For all age and sex groups, it is now very clear that brain volume and
intelligence are related,” says lead researcher Michael A. McDaniel,
McDaniel, a professor in management in VCU’s School of Business, found that, on average, intelligence increases with increasing brain volume.
“On average, smarter people learn quicker, make fewer errors, and are more productive,” McDaniel said. “The use of intelligence tests in screening job applicants has substantial economic benefits for organizations.”
The good news for those of us with smaller brains is that intelligence measured via intelligence testing is only one type of intelligence quotient.
(See our Emotional Intelligence
page for just one of the MANY types of intelligence that have been
identified by researchers over the last few decades).
If Dr. McDaniel's findings are correct hoping to increase intelligence via an intelligence quiz or an intelligence quotient test is an illusion.
Many programs, books and teachers claim to have some kind
of breakthrough method for improving intelligence, but none of
them pass muster as far as the American Psychological Association is concerned.
What is likely is that the more you use your brain the
better you get at specific types of activities. Even if you have a small
brain (like me), by stimulating your mind via puzzles and games or by
taking Intelligence tests on a regular basis, you are likely to get better
at passing Intelligence Tests. The reason is simple - "Practice Makes
The benefit is not that you have increased your
intelligence - it is that you have improved your ability to deal with
Intelligence Tests as far as a measure of human intelligence is concerned often just show that you are good at passing one type of culturally-specific intelligence testing regime.
Given that Intelligence Quotient Test scores measure just a limited range of intelligence
it begs the question - how relevant is a typical intelligence test.
At first glance, the answer to this question - if it is true
that a bigger brain means you are smarter - is very little. But that is only
until you apply for a job where intelligence testing is part of the induction
If, on average, smarter people learn quicker, make fewer errors, and are more
productive, using intelligence tests to screen job applicants is unlikely to go
away - just the opposite.
It is economics that makes intelligence tests relevant - not
whether they are an accurate measure of your life skills.
It is blindingly obvious that:
Intelligence quotient scores relate to just one intelligence scale
Researchers have isolated many different
types of intelligence so an Intelligence Test and it's
associated intelligence quotient score is not the only intelligence
Intelligence testing doesn't help you increase
your intelligence (even though it probably makes it easier for you
to do better at intelligence tests)
An intelligence quiz and intelligence quotient tests are very limited ways
of measure overall human intelligence.
To summarise - be careful when using different intelligence scales - you might think you have found out how to increase intelligence - but it is more likely that you have found an intelligence quiz that suits your
individual mix of intelligences better.
Bigger brains aside, there is also mounting evidence that
the ratio of brain cells you have between different regions of the brain
are related to the TYPE of intelligence you have.
According to a recent article in NeuroImage it is likely that a person’s mental strengths and weaknesses depend in large part on the individual pattern of
grey matter across his or her brain.
This helps to explain why one person is quite good at music and not so good at
mathematics, and another person, with the same IQ, is the opposite.
Interestingly, only 6 percent of all the grey matter in the brain appears related to
IQ - intelligence seems related to efficient use of a small part of your
And as you age the brain cells related to IQ seem to shift
around. (Sometimes I think I might have lost mine altogether!)
For the record, the average Intelligence Quotient score is 100. The standard deviation of
Intelligence Quotient scores is 15.
Statistically speaking this means:
50% of people have Intelligence Quotient scores between 90 and 110
2.5% of people are very superior in intelligence (over 130)
2.5% of people are mentally deficient / impaired / retarded (under 70)
0.5% of people are near genius or genius (over 140)
There's a saying where I come from "If you're so
smart how come you ain't so rich?"
A number of researchers think that conventional intelligence quotient
scores tell us little about the potential for an individual. So why would
a person who is 'very superior in intelligence' fail? The reasons might
Intelligence Quotients are therefore only part of the
picture - there are many factors besides their Intelligence Quotient that
contribute to success.
Intelligence Quotient Test
There a number of accepted Intelligence Quotient tests.
The Binet-Simon test was the first - it was developed in France
by Alfred Binet, a French educator, in 1905.
The Binet-Simon test underwent a major revision in 1916 and was renamed the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test. Part of the revision was the invention of the "Intelligence Quotient", better well-known as IQ.
Lewis Terman (from Stanford University) then worked with Binet to develop
the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test. This test linked chronological and mental
This was then revised when people realised that the
chronological/mental age mathematics were not quite right - the methodology
identified more 'geniuses' than was in fact the case. To deal with this problem
the statistical measure of standard deviation became the norm.
So, when you are looking at an Intelligence Quotient Test,
bear in mind that not too long ago 'passing' an Intelligence Quotient Test
was quite a bit easier than it is today :-).
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