There’s a pretty common misconception that IQ is something that is innate, or even that it’s something established early on in life and then doesn’t change. There’s also the common misconception that IQ is a consistent, established, and testable unit of measurement, but that’s a whole different can of worms. Cathy Price of University College London and her team conducted a study to try and dig into the real story behind IQ. What they found was that, however you measure it, it’s a number that’s in flux well into the teenage years.
The study involved testing 33 teenagers between the ages of 12-14 in 2004 and the same 33 again in 2008 when they were 16-20. Along side standard IQ tests measuring verbal and non-verbal intelligence, the researchers took MRI images of the kids’ brains during the tests in order to get deeper results. What they found was that the teens could drop or rise up 20 points, and not just in a specific area, but in all areas or any combination thereof.
This wasn’t some sort of arbitrary “it’s the test’s fault” fluke either. When the researchers compaired the retest brain scans with the originals, they reflected the change in IQ, a change in wiring. Obviously this flies in the face of standard thinking on the subject.
Of course, like any study, this one raised a few more questions than it did answers. Sure, teenage IQ is malleable, but what does that mean? What affects it? Is it only teens? At what point does it become malleable? When does it stop? Does it ever stop? Well, this study isn’t going help clear any of that up. It has, however, blown the lid off of traditional IQ thinking and given other researchers some really good reasons to start looking into that kind of stuff. Who knows what they’ll turn up, but I’m kind of wary about too much information on this subject myself. I’m not sure I want to know all the things I’m doing that could hurt my IQ or the things I did that hurt it in the past. Ignorance is bliss, and may or may not affect your IQ.
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