What age is IQ most malleable

Location: science.ORF.at / Message: "The IQ is not an immutable variable"

"We have a tendency to assess children and determine their educational path relatively early in life," said study author Cathy Price. At the same time, the intelligence of children can still develop and some high-performing children cannot maintain their potential. So far, the human intelligence measured in this way has been considered largely stable over the years.

Drastic fluctuations

The scientists from the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at University College London examined 33 adolescents aged between twelve and 16 years. A picture was taken of their brain using magnetic resonance imaging (magnetic resonance imaging, MRT), and they also underwent a common intelligence test.

Language, general knowledge and memory as well as skills such as searching for missing picture elements or solving puzzles were analyzed. Four years later, the adolescents - who did not know about the second test - were examined again.

The test scores for the intelligence quotients varied between 77 and 135 at the first appointment and between 87 and 143 at the second appointment. Some of the teenagers improved their results in the tests by 20 points. Others deteriorated by a similar amount. The results for individual skills could develop differently. At the same time, the gray matter in the brain, which mainly consists of nerve cell bodies, has changed, according to the researchers.

Malleable brain

An increase in verbal IQ (language, memory) correlated with an increase in the density of gray matter in a region of the left motor cerebral cortex that is activated when speaking. In the anterior cerebellum, on the other hand, there was an increase in the density of the gray matter in the brain with an increase in the non-verbal IQ - such as puzzle and picture search skills. This region of the brain is associated with hand movements.

According to the researchers, the ups and downs of the intelligence quotient could have something to do with the fact that the children are early or late developing. It is hardly surprising that training could also play a role. In any case, the results make it clear that the brain remains malleable in the course of life and can adapt to new challenges.


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