History and Information about the IQ Test Part 3 Development and Famous Smarties

About the intelligence quotient or IQ test used to gauge people's smarts, history and other information on the famous tests.

Inside the IQ Test

The brain is delicately programmed to develop certain abilities at certain ages. If something goes wrong, these abilities will be stunted or lie dormant forever. For instance, if a rat is stimulated (by petting, electric shock, or play) when it is 5 to 10 days old, it will become an explorer for life, but its ability to reason will not be influenced much. On the other hand, if it is stimulated when it is 14 days old, it will be able to solve problems better, but it will not necessarily be an explorer. Experimenters now think that stimulation releases the hormone corticosterone, which acts on the brain and sometimes causes an increase in certain kinds of intelligence.

These theories also seem to apply to human beings. Somewhere between 10 and 18 months, a child spurts ahead in his ability to think logically--if he is stimulated properly. Young children have a great capacity to perceive form, a capacity which seems to flower at ages 3 and 4 and to lessen with age. Therefore, some educators reason, why not teach children to read (a skill involving perception of form) when they are best able to discern pattern? Also, W. Ragan Callaway of the University of Toronto believes that early reading may make children brighter by exercising their brains at exactly the right time.

Which Genius Was Smarter? Dr. Catherine Cox, a psychologist, has made estimates of the IQs of famous people. Here is a sample:

Normal IQ today--100


Voltaire, Newton--190


Da Vinci, Descartes--180








Who's Smart Now? What characteristics does the usual intelligent person have? Look for yourself in the following list.

1. The intelligent person is likely to be an only child or the eldest child in a family. (Who's Who lists more firstborns than their number in the general population justifies.) The reason for this may not be so mysterious--parents treat only children and firstborns differently.

2. The intelligent person is likely to have been breast-fed. Mothers who breast-feed children tend to be conscientious. Also, human milk contains cystine, a substance which influences learning.

3. The intelligent person is likely to sleep less. When he does sleep, his eyes move for longer periods, indicating more brain-wave activity.

4. The intelligent person is likely to be somewhat "feminine" if a boy, "masculine" if a girl. The cause? Possibly prenatal hormonal changes in the mother, some experts think.

5. The intelligent person is likely to have more surface convolutions on the cerebral cortex. A pathologist conducting an autopsy can estimate how smart his subject was by noting the number of these folds.

In essence then, intelligence tests are crude measures of something as yet inadequately defined, something highly complex, perhaps entirely chemical, and ever changing.

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