For many years, educators and researchers have been using the IQ test as the most comprehensive way of measuring a person’s intelligence. They have also upheld that this one-time measurement will be accurate throughout a person’s life; in other words, one’s intellectual capacity does not change over time. However, as it turns out, this logic may not be as infallible as it once seemed.
Back in 2004, Cathy Price and a group of other scientists tested the IQ’s of a number of teens and then took structural images of their brains using an MRI scanner. Four years later, the same experiment was conducted on the same individuals, and on average, the IQ scores were the same. Differences in scores that occurred for some students were simply attributed to him/her having an “off-day.”
What scientists are now increasingly interested in, however, is the brain data for this group of inconsistent students. The MRI scans for these teens are showing that, as opposed to simply having varying levels of concentration during the two tests, they actually underwent significant changes in the density of grey matter in their brains. Grey matter is a major component of the brain, consisting of neuron cell bodies, glial cells, and capillaries. In the cases of these students, an increase in IQ score (sometimes up to 21 points) was accompanied by an increased density of grey matter in certain key areas of the brain, such as the left motor cortex.
If these results are confirmed by further experimentation, they could have a significant effect on our educational system. Proving that teenagers do, in fact, have a “malleable intellect,” would mean that judging kids based on one-time examinations such as the SAT may not be such a good way to determine their potential.
But don’t get too excited kids. If students’ intelligence can change over time, it is more likely that they would be encouraged to take more standardized tests, since they might perform better after allowing their brains to grow a little. In addition, although the exact causes of these spikes in IQ are unknown, it has been proven that certain mental exercises can cause a growth in grey matter. If grey matter density does parallel intelligence, we will se an increase in the emphasis on these activities in the training of young adults.
For these reasons, in the coming years we will likely see an increase in studies on this subject. If certain exercises or activities are proven to boost an individual’s intelligence, as many scientists are hypothesizing, this could revolutionize the way we that we train our children, both in school and at home.
Which activities do you think will be found to increase a person’s intellectual capacity?
For more information on this particular study, visit http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/335343/title/Teen_brains_growing_pains