People with high IQs have stronger basic perceptual skills, research finds.
For example, they can tell which way objects are moving more quickly.
They are also better at blocking out background information to make their judgement.
Imagine a ball thrown at high speed — a more intelligent person can pick up its trajectory faster.
A higher IQ makes the brain faster at a fundamental level.
It helps underline that high IQ is about more than just solving puzzles or making the ‘right’ decision.
The conclusion comes from a study in which people had to judge which way lines on a screen were moving.
Dr Duje Tadin, co-author of the paper, said:
“Because intelligence is such a broad construct, you can’t really track it back to one part of the brain.
But since this task is so simple and so closely linked to IQ, it may give us clues about what makes a brain more efficient, and, consequently, more intelligent.”
Here is an example of task people were given:
The results showed that the more intelligent people were, the quicker they picked up the direction of the drifting lines.
However, people with high IQs are counter-intuitively worse at detecting the movement in the large images.
Mr Michael Melnick, study co-author, said:
“”Being ‘quick witted’ and ‘quick on the draw’ generally go hand in hand.
From previous research, we expected that all participants would be worse at detecting the movement of large images, but high IQ individuals were much, much worse.”
What this shows is that people with high IQs are better at suppressing background information.
Think of watching a car driving down the street.
Most of your visual field is taken up with background: road, buildings, sky and so on.
The better you can block out all that extraneous stuff, the better you can focus on what the car is doing.
That is what high IQ people were better at.
Dr Tadin said:
“We know from prior research which parts of the brain are involved in visual suppression of background motion.
This new link to intelligence provides a good target for looking at what is different about the neural processing, what’s different about the neurochemistry, what’s different about the neurotransmitters of people with different IQs.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Current Biology (Melnick et al., 2013).