Friday, August 26, 2016

Direct measurement of IQ advancing

Tuning inside the brain is the difference between normal and super smart people, researchers have found.  They say general cognitive ability may be the result of a 'well-tuned brain network' - and may even be able to develop to tune up the mind of those less intelligent.

They found the brains of those with higher intelligence were extremely similar at rest and while carrying out  tasks.

'Specifically, we found that brain network configuration at rest was already closer to a wide variety of task configurations in intelligent individuals,' the Rutgers University team wrote in The Journal of Neuroscience.

'This suggests that the ability to modify network connectivity efficiently when task demands change is a hallmark of high intelligence.

The study suggests greater similarity between brain connectivity at rest and on task may be associated with better mental performance.

It shows that general cognitive ability may be the result of well-tuned brain network updates, said study author Michael Cole of Rutgers University.

'The results also suggest that if we can figure out how to better tune these networks, we can possibly influence cognitive ability generally.'

Different types of cognitive tasks spur activity in various regions of the brain, as indicated by studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The regions activated depend on the specific task, and scientists believe regions active at the same time work together as a network.

Even when our brains are at rest, collections of regions remain active in 'resting-state networks.'

To test the theory, Schultz and Cole analyzed brain imaging data obtained by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Minnesota as part of the Human Connectome Project.

One hundred healthy adults had their brains scanned with fMRI while they rested quietly and while they performed various cognitive tests.

To study brain network reconfiguration, the Rutgers scientists compared participants' resting-state networks to the networks active during language, reasoning, and memory tasks and computed how similar each task-related network was to the resting-state network.

When they compared these similarity ratings to the participants' performance on each task, they found individuals who performed better had more similar resting and task networks.

The researchers also compared the networks active during each of the three cognitive tasks and created a composite generalized task network pattern.

They found that the more similar this generalized task network pattern was to the resting-state network pattern, the better the participant performed on each task, suggesting individuals who performed well had resting-state networks optimized to switch to any of a variety of new tasks.

In other words, high performers appeared to use their brains more efficiently, only needing to make small changes when switching tasks.

However, Cole and study author Douglas Schultz previously found the resting and on-task networks were highly similar.

This led the researchers to propose that the brain has an intrinsic network that reconfigures itself when we switch from resting to performing a task, and they hypothesized the reconfiguration of this intrinsic network relates to how well we perform a given task.

The results of the study suggest that 'people's performance on various cognitive tasks is better the fewer changes they have to their brain connectivity,' said John Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin who studies cognition and was not involved in the study.

'The efficiency with which a brain engages in a task might be a predictor of intelligence.'

The researchers are planning additional studies to examine how training may improve cognitive abilities by influencing the brain's intrinsic network and its reconfiguration during different tasks. [Fat chance!]


Sunday, August 21, 2016

People like people  -- but high IQ people need their solitude

The above heading encapsulates the findings of a paper from earlier this year by Li & Kanazawa.  Man is a social animal so the finding that people are happier if they have a lot of contact with friends is no surprise.  But why are high IQ people different?  I personally certainly fit the pattern described.  In a typical week I would see the lady in my life for an evening twice a week but have no other social contact in that week.  Since he lives in the same building as I do, my son drops in for a brief chat every few days but that is it.  I do however go to family birthdays and there are a few of them.

So can I offer an explanation of why high IQ people are so anti-social?  The easy answer is that high IQ people find normal people boring, and there is some truth in that.  But, on the other hand, people at all intelligence levels tend to choose their friends from people around their own IQ level.  So a high IQ  person would normally have pretty bright friends.  So boredom would be unlikely to be the crucial factor.

I am afraid that I can offer no general explanation but I note that in my own case, I consider my self-chosen "work" of keeping up with the politics of 3 countries -- the USA, the UK and Australia -- to be pretty engrossing and I need most of my time for that.  From my POV, I haven't got the time for a lot of socializing.  People do to a degree socialize when they have got nothing else to do.  I am rarely in that situation.

I do have both a brother and a son who see things very much as I do.  But that is not as good a thing as some might imagine.  Because we see eye to eye we basically  have nothing to say to one another.  Anything we say would just be a  repetition of something that the other believes. So there is surprising complexity in the way we high IQ people  behave.

There is an extended discussion of the matter here.  Information on the sample used is here

Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness

Norman P. Li & Satoshi Kanazawa


We propose the savanna theory of happiness, which suggests that it is not only the current consequences of a given situation but also its ancestral consequences that affect individuals’ life satisfaction and explains why such influences of ancestral consequences might interact with intelligence. We choose two varied factors that characterize basic differences between ancestral and modern life – population density and frequency of socialization with friends – as empirical test cases. As predicted by the theory, population density is negatively, and frequency of socialization with friends is positively, associated with life satisfaction. More importantly, the main associations of life satisfaction with population density and socialization with friends significantly interact with intelligence, and, in the latter case, the main association is reversed among the extremely intelligent. More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends. This study highlights the utility of incorporating evolutionary perspectives in the study of subjective well-being.