Thursday, October 27, 2011

New study finds IQ can rise or fall significantly

IQ can rise or fall significantly during adolescence, brain scans confirm starts:

Across our lifetime, our intellectual ability is considered to be stable, with Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores taken at one point in time used to predict educational achievement and employment prospects later in life. However, in a study published today in the journal Nature, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London) and the Centre for Educational Neuroscience show for the first time that in fact our IQ is not constant.

The researchers, led by Professor Cathy Price, tested thirty-three healthy adolescents in 2004 when they were between the ages of 12 and 16 years. They then repeated the tests four years later when the same subjects were between 15 and 20 years old. On both occasions, the researchers took structural brains scans of the subjects using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Professor Price and colleagues found significant changes in the IQ scores measured in 2008 compared to the 2004 scores. Some subjects had improved their performance relative to people of a similar age by as much as 20 points on the standardised IQ scale; in other cases, however, performance had fallen by a similar amount. In order to test whether these changes were meaningful, the researchers analysed the MRI scans to see if there was a correlation with changes in the structure of the subjects' brains.

And it appears IQ may be able to change even into adulthood:

"The question is, if our brain structure can change throughout our adult lives, can our IQ also change?" adds Professor Price. "My guess is yes. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that our brains can adapt and their structure changes, even in adulthood."


e-Expeditions said...

This doesn't really surprise me... the brain is an incredible muscle, and you can train it just like any other muscle. Or, of course, you could get out of mental 'shape' and let it go flabby... it all depends on how much you challenge yourself. :)

Henry Cate said...

My impression had been that the popular view was IQ was a measurement of native capacity. Now it seems like it really is a measurement of current ability, which I agree with you does make sense.