Brett Smith writes for Red Orbit dot com about University of Rochester researcher’s, “Context-free tests that can determine a person’s IQ regardless of cultural background.”
The team began their work by asking volunteers to watch a series of videos showing black-and-white bars moving either left or right on a computer screen. The bars were shown in three sizes, from a thumb-sized central circle to an area about the size of an outstretched hand.
As the volunteers were asked to determine which direction the bars were moving, the researchers recorded how long it took the individual to correctly perceive the bars’ motion. Participants also took a standard intelligence test.
As they hypothesized, the researchers found that individuals with a high IQ were able pick up the movement of small objects faster than individuals with a low IQ.
“Being ‘quick witted’ and ‘quick on the draw’ generally go hand in hand,” said Michael Melnick, a doctoral candidate in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.
However, when tests involved the larger images of moving bars, those with higher IQ scores were the slowest to respond.
“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,” Melnick said.
“There is something about the brains of high-IQ individuals that prevents them from quickly seeing large, background-like motions,” Tadin added.
According to the scientists, the inability to perceive large moving images is a marker for the brain’s ability to suppress background motion. In most scenarios, suppressing background movement is essential for processing visual information.
“We know from prior research which parts of the brain are involved in visual suppression of background motion,” said Tadin. “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.”
The scientists stressed that their results were consistent, even after switching to a second set of volunteers and a more comprehensive IQ test. While the first set of experiments found a 64 percent correlation between background suppression and IQ, the larger and more comprehensive second set produced a 71 percent correlation.