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New Study Shows IQ Tests Are 'A Myth' and 'Flawed'

Update Date: Dec 21, 2012 12:39 PM EST
Mind, Brain
"It's a simple fact that some people stand out," Dr. Travis said. (Photo : Creative Commons)

A person's intelligence has long been measured by using the intelligence quotient (IQ), but now a new comprehensive study from University of Western Ontario has set out to debunk the myth that IQ is an accurate way to measure intelligence.

Researchers that took part in the study now claim that it is a "myth" to measure human beings intelligence using an IQ, but instead say that it can only be predicted by combining results from at least three tests of our mental agility.

In the largest Internet-based intelligence study ever conducted, the scientists were able to collect data from over 100,000 participants. The results of the study were published in an article titled "Fractionating human intelligence" in the journal Neuron.

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The study showed that different circuits within the brain are used for different thought processes, the researchers showed, meaning separate tests of short-term memory, reasoning and verbal skills are needed to measure someone's overall intelligence.

"When we looked at the data, the bottom line is the whole concept of IQ - or of you having a higher IQ than me - is a myth," said Dr. Adrian Owen, the study's senior investigator and the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at the university's Brain and Mind Institute. "There is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence."

The researchers advertised their tests through New Scientist magazine and on discovery.com. Researchers initially only expected a few thousand participants, but it quickly became popular online with more and more people sharing it among their social circles.   It became the largest online study on intelligence, allowing them to gather data across demographic, age and gender lines.

The scientists found that no single component, or IQ, could explain all the variations revealed by the tests. The researcher then analyzed the brain circuitry of 16 participants with a hospital MRI scanner and found that the three separate components corresponded to three distinct patterns of neural activity in the brain.

Writing in the Neuron journal, the researchers also observed that regularly playing "brain training" games appeared to have no effect on people's overall performance.

An updated version of the test has been released as part of the ongoing research project.

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