The cartoons may have actually been correct. The smarter characters seemed to always have larger-than-normal heads and therefore brains. I always thought that was silly and that it doesn’t matter what size your brain is. You can still be smart even with a smaller physical brain.
Apparently, having a bigger brain could actually mean you’re smarter than the average bear. That’s according to a new study from Washington University in St. Louis (abstract) which examined variations in brain scans that they believe help figure out which parts of the brain are the reason behind intelligence.
According to the study, brain size does play a role, albeit small. The study found brain size accounts for 6.7% variance in intelligence. In other words, it plays a role.
The study went on to measure the strength of neural connections between the left prefrontal cortex (right behind your forehead) and the rest of the brain. The strength of this area leads to a 10% difference in intelligence. In other words, the stronger your connections here… the higher your IQ.
“Our research shows that connectivity with a particular part of the prefrontal cortex can predict how intelligent someone is,” suggests lead author Michael W. Cole, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in cognitive neuroscience at Washington University.
Taking a step back from the science part, this study actually states that there’s essentially a way to measure your IQ by scanning your brain. As the science and specifics get locked down a bit more, there could very soon be a standard test given to all newborns so parents know exactly what to expect out of their children. Sounds a bit like Minority Report or The Matrix to me.
So whether this is the future of measuring IQ or not, it’s exciting to see any progress made in terms of understanding the brain. To the best of my knowledge (with my limited IQ and whatnot), the brain is still just a big grey mysterious blob that runs on magic and pixie dust.
The findings also may offer new avenues for understanding how breakdowns in global brain connectivity contribute to the profound cognitive control deficits seen in schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, Cole suggests.
Do you think the new method of brain scans will gain traction? Will people actually want to measure their IQ through a scan? Will parents measure a child’s IQ? Weigh in down below in the comments or just start wrapping your head in tin foil. Your choice!