Iq tests are misleading

Iq tests are misleading

Calculating a person's intelligence using a quotient test (IQ test) is actually very poor and misleading, according to researchers from Western University, Canada. They conducted a study to observe the efficacy of using IQ tests to measure intelligence and published their findings in the journal Neuron.

The research team included Adrian M. Owen and Adam Hampshire from Western's Brain and Mind Institute and Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, Science Museum Group in London, U.K.

Over 100,000 people from places all around the world participated in the study, they were each given an online cognitive test that examined their memory, attention, reasoning and planning abilities. The researchers also asked them about their lifestyle habits and background.

According to Owen, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging and senior investigator on the project:

"The uptake was astonishing. We expected a few hundred responses, but thousands and thousands of people took part, including people of all ages, cultures and creeds from every corner of the world." 

They found that intelligence is actually made up of three different components: short-term memory, reasoning and a verbal component. The variations in the performance of cognitive abilities can be explained by these three components.

Through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) the researchers were able to identify distinct circuits in the brain responsible for these differences in cognitive ability.

The brain has different nerve circuits that contribute towards intellectual ability. People might be good in some of these areas but less so in others. A general measure of intelligence, such as an IQ test, fails to show the full differences in cognitive ability in people.

The study also identified factors that can influence brain function, such as the tendency to play computer games, age, and gender.

According Adrian M. Owen: "Regular brain training didn't help people's cognitive performance at all yet aging had a profound negative effect on both memory and reasoning abilities,"

Hampshire said:

"Intriguingly, people who regularly played computer games did perform significantly better in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory. And smokers performed poorly on the short-term memory and the verbal factors, while people who frequently suffer from anxiety performed badly on the short-term memory factor in particular".

He concluded: "To ensure the results aren't biased, we can't say much about the agenda other than that there are many more fascinating questions about variations in cognitive ability that we want to answer".

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