Monday, January 07, 2013

there is no such thing as IQ or a general measure of intelligence...,

thestar | The idea that intelligence can be measured by a single number — your IQ — is wrong, according to a recent study led by researchers at the University of Western Ontario.

The study, published in the journal Neuron on Wednesday, involved 100,000 participants around the world taking 12 cognitive tests, with a smaller sample of the group undergoing simultaneous brain-scan testing.
“When we looked at the data, the bottom line is the whole concept of IQ — or of you having a higher IQ than me — is a myth,” said Dr. Adrian Owen, the study’s senior investigator and the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at the university’s Brain and Mind Institute. “There is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence.”

Rather, the study determined three factors — reasoning, short-term memory and verbal ability — that combined to create human intelligence or “cognitive profile.”

IQ testing is used by many educators to measure intelligence, including in public schools in Ontario.
The researchers advertised their tests through New Scientist magazine and on discovery.com. Word quickly spread around the world, far surpassing the expectations of researchers, who expected only a few thousand participants. It became the largest online study on intelligence, allowing them to gather data across demographic, age and gender lines.

The scientists also used brain-scanning (fMRIs) on some of the subjects. “If there is something in the brain that is IQ, we should be able to find it by scanning. But it turns out there is no one area in the brain that accounts for people’s so-called IQ. In fact, there are three completely different networks that respond — verbal abilities, reasoning abilities and short-term memory abilities — that are in quite different parts of the brain,” Owen said.

Among the study’s other findings:
  •  While aging has a detrimental effect on reasoning and short-term memory, it leaves verbal abilities “completely unimpaired.”
  •  Smoking has a negative impact on verbal abilities and short-term memory but does not affect reasoning skills.
  • People who play video games performed “significantly better” in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory.
  • Products that are advertised to improve brain function aren’t effective. “People who ‘brain-train’ are no better at any of these three aspects of intelligence than people who don’t,” Owen said.
 People can still take the tests at cambridgebrainsciences.com/theIQchallenge. Owen said he hopes that 1 million people across the globe will eventually participate. Fist tap Dale.

3 comments:

umbrarchist said...

The most hilarious thing about this is that benchmarks for computers demonstrate it easily. Different benchmarks measure different characteristics by finding the strengths and weaknesses of various computers. Yeah you can take all of the numbers and add them or average them or whatever, but as soon as you do that you lose detail and miss information.


The psychology profession has demonstrated its stupidity by persisting in this use of IQ for decades. I had a psychology book that actually said, "Intelligence is what intelligence tests measure." I was a college freshman and I laughed my ass off at that. But this kind of professional stupidity seems to be quite common. Economists are worse than psychologists.

Ken S said...

Well, some psychometricians have been doing factor analysis on 'test batteries' for some time now and by simply considering the content of the tests things like verbal intelligence, reasoning ability, and short term memory were suspected as causing differences in test performance (some of these papers come up with even more factors than Owen did). Its nice to have more insight into this, which Owen's study does provide, but to sell it as something new is sort of a misrepresentation.

In his interviews he is making patently false claims contradicted by his *own study*, for whatever reason, this is from the study itself:

"The question remains, therefore, of whether intelligence is supported by one or multiple systems, and if the latter is the case,
which cognitive processes those systems can most broadly be described as supporting. Furthermore, even if multiple functionally distinct brain networks contribute to intelligence, it is unknown whether the capacities of those networks are independent, or are related to the same set of diffuse biological factors that modulate general neural efficiency."

So Owen has decomposed 'g' into the 'capacities' of multiple brain networks (and doing so is probably about as sensible as the concept of 'g' itself), but the study is clearly consistent with people generally being more capable in using all the networks if they are more capable in any single network.

Dale Asberry said...

The big take-away I got wasn't that there are multiple areas of intelligence - which has been suspected for some time - but that he was able to quantify 3 areas to distinct brain regions. This ties the factor analysis of the previous psychometricians to physical brain function in the form of brain scans.

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