Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Intelligent people's brains wired differently to those with fewer intellectual abilities, says study
Intelligent people's brains wired differently to those with fewer intellectual abilities, says study by Steve Connor. "The scientists were part of the $30m (£20m) Human Connectome Project funded by the US National Institutes of Health to study the neural pathways of the brain. "
"The brains of high-achieving individuals are wired up differently to those of people with fewer intellectual or social abilities according to one of the first studies to find a physical link between what goes in the brain and a person’s overall lifestyle. An analysis of the 'connectivity' between different parts of the brain in hundreds of healthy people found a correlation between how well wired-up some individuals were to their cognitive abilities and general success in life, scientists said. The researchers found that 'positive' abilities, such as good vocabulary, memory, life satisfaction, income and years of education, were linked significantly with a greater connectivity between regions of the brain associated with higher cognition. This was in contrast to the significantly lower brain connectivity of people who scored high in 'negative' traits such a drug abuse, anger, rule-breaking and poor sleep quality, the scientists said."
"Each fMRI analysis looked at the connectivity – the amount of nerve signalling – that takes place between about 200 different regions of the brain. The one that stood out was the connectivity between the parts of the brain involved in so-called higher-level cognition, such as language and learning. . ."
"The ability to measure the amount of nerve signalling between different parts of the brain, especially those involved in high cognition such as learning and memory, could help scientists to better understand the nature of general intelligence, which is currently measured by tests that examine a range of intellectual skills."
"It may also be possible to use the research to work out how to train people to improve their brain connectivity and therefore push than up the scale so that they achieve more than they otherwise would, he added."
While this study only hints at improving one's intelligence, other studies (frequently discussed on this blog, e.g., here, here) have shown that intelligence can be improved with hard work and deliberate practice. What this study gives us is a better picture of how the brain works. Now, we need to use it to develop ways to better educate our students.