IQ Scores are Less Permanent Than We Thought!
Few tests have higher social and emotional stakes than that of the intelligence quotient, or IQ. The results impact the manner in which we see ourselves in a way not even much dreaded college entrance tests can.
That's because unlike these college tests, the end result is not a measure of our study skills and dedication, but a measure of our brain’s very ability to learn. The number we are given is a stamp that labels us “above average”, “average” or even "below". :/
Even more nerve wracking, is the idea that this score will remain ours for the rest of our lives. The once average would always be average, the once below, would always be below - until now.
A recent study now offers definitive proof that the idea of a stable, forever IQ, simply isn’t accurate.
In this study, students ages 12 to 16 had structural brain scans and took the IQ test, and then, four years later and now between the ages of 15 and 20, repeated the same process all over again. Though going into the study, researchers expected some small changes one way or the other, what they found was much bigger jumps than they had ever anticipated.
Results jumped – or fell – as much as 20 points in some!
Yet they remained skeptical until MRI scans were assessed to determine how meaningful these results really were. Their finding?
“We found a clear correlation between this change in performance and changes in the structure of their brains and so can say with some certainty that these changes in IQ are real.” said lead researcher, Professor Cathy Price.
The areas students had improved on – either their verbal IQ, their non-verbal IQ or both - were evident with increased gray matter density in the correlating brain area.
To fellow educators, Professor Price offered this advice, “We have to be careful not to write off poorer performers at an early stage when in fact their IQ may improve significantly given a few more years. It's analogous to fitness. A teenager who is athletically fit at 14 could be less fit at 18 if they stopped exercising. Conversely, an unfit teenager can become much fitter with exercise.”