Stronger perceptual skills are a sign of high IQ, a study finds.
People with higher IQs find it easier to tell which way an object is moving.
On top of this, they are better at blocking out distracting backgrounds.
A more intelligent person, for example, finds it easier to pick up the trajectory of a thrown ball.
The reason is that the brains of people with higher IQs work faster.
Faster brains make quicker perceptual judgements as well as being better at solving puzzles or analysing decisions.
For the study, people had to judge lines moving across a screen.
Here is an example:
The results showed that more intelligent people were better at correctly identifying the direction of the drifting lines.
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.”
However, sometimes people were shown small images, sometimes large.
More intelligent people were actually worse at the larger images.
This demonstrates that more intelligent people are better at ignoring background information.
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.”
The study may help researchers identify the neural correlates of intelligence, said Dr Tadin:
“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).