It is generally accepted that our IQ remains constant and stable, our IQ “scores taken at one point in time used to predict educational achievement and employment prospects later in life”. However a new study shows that our standard measure of intelligence can increase or fall significantly during our teenage years. These fluctuations are associated with changes in the actual physical structure of our brain. So what does this mean? Our IQ scores can get better!
In 2004 researchers tested the IQ’s of 33 healthy adolescents, ranging between 12 and 16 years old, and then repeated the test four years later. On both tests, researchers took Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, which look at the actual physical structure of the brain. There were significant changes in the 2008 IQ scores when compared to the scores taken in 2004. Some had improved by as much as 20 points on the standardized IQ scale and some scores dropped by a similar amount.
What is most interesting is that they were able to correlate increases in IQ scores with increases in the density of grey matter — “the nerve cells where the processing takes place” – in particular regions brain. There are two parts to an IQ test, verbal (measures language, arithmetic and memory) and non-verbal (solving visual puzzles). An increase in the Verbal IQ score correlated with an increase of grey matter in the left motor cortex of the brain, “which is used when articulating speech”. As well as an increase the non-verbal IQ score correlated with an increase of grey matter in the anterior cerebellum, “which is associated with movements of the hand”.
What we have to take away from this is that we must not “write off poorer performers at an early stage when in fact their IQ may improve significantly given a few more years”. It is possible that increases in IQ were due to some participants being early or late developers, as well as education. It is imperative that your children stay brain healthy in order to maintain a lifestyle that would promote a higher IQ. Not only can your children improve their IQ as they develop, there is strong evidence to support that adults can change their IQ as well! For more ways to improve your brain, check out Magnificent Mind At Any Age, my program for achieving and sustaining optimal mental performance.