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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Does IQ Test Really Measure Intelligence?

RIP IQ Test? continued...

IQ scores may also be somewhat misleading, Hampshire says. “Based on the results of our study, it seems likely that IQ differences will vary in scale or even direction depending on the exact type of intelligence that the test or set of tests rely most heavily upon. I would suggest that it is both more accurate and informative to measure multiple types of intelligence.”

He plans to see if there are other types of intelligence that were not captured in this study.

Hampshire said the findings themselves weren’t all that surprising, but the number of people who took part in the study exceeded expectations. “I had thought a couple of thousand people might log in and participate in the study over the course of six months. Instead, tens of thousands logged in within the space of a few weeks,” he says. It was a remarkably strong response from members of the general public, who gave half an hour or more of their time to support this research.”

John Gabrieli, PhD, professor of brain and cognitive science at MIT in Boston, reviewed the study for WebMD. “This is a really compelling study of an extraordinarily large number of people taking tests with a careful data analysis. It makes the case against the idea that IQ is localized in one part of the brain. We imagine that there is THE test of intelligence, but you can measure it in many ways. One measure may make a person seem super-intelligent, but if they picked another, they may seem average. There are multiple kinds of intelligence that can link to various tasks and different parts of the brain.”

Gayatri Devi, MD, agrees with the new study findings. She is an attending neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “To come up with one unifying score and use that to determine a person’s overall ability is fraught with problems,” she says. “We need to get away from that.”

The study appears in the journal Neuron.

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