Misuse of IQ Scores - Or - Are We Dead From the Neck Up at 45?

The Infamous Bell Curve

One explanation of IQ Scores and related capabilties.
One explanation of IQ Scores and related capabilties. | Source

Theater of the Absurd

The Set-up -

  • A child is born, but its CNS is not completely developed, nor will it be until his 20s.*
  • The child becomes an adult and begins to lose brain cells, IQ level**, and cognitive function at age 45, but lives to be 100.
  • The adult becomes less intelligent and more decrepit over the course of 6 decades. The national retirement system expects him to work until age 75, but he is laid off at age 50 for being "too old" (not stated in so many words, but: "They lose IQ, you know!"
  • The next 55 years are a Twilight Zone of existence until he dies penniless.

.

*all true
**ain't necessarily so 

A Muzhik Botching the Bast Shoes, an Old Woman Spinning Thread. Artist unknown.
A Muzhik Botching the Bast Shoes, an Old Woman Spinning Thread. Artist unknown.

What's In a Number?

New psychological tests are released for use by specifically qualified individuals every year. I administered a good number of types and editions of IQ tests over several years.

New Intelligence Tests are often among them. Across the range of such IQ testing available, a single individual will usually score at different levels across the lot, since each is constructed from a different focus.

What is IQ? Mathematically, it is the answer to a division problem. That is what a quotient is. Specifically, we are speaking of

Mental Age รท Chronological Age = IQ

For example, a little girl of age 5 is examined with a Stanford Binet or WISC/WPPSI-series IQ test by a school administration and placed into the 3rd Grade instead of Kindergarten. What is her IQ? In my market area, Grade 3 is defined as ages 8 to 9 for reading level determination. Therefore, without using the fancy test scores; the little girl's IQ is between 8/5 to 9/5 or 1.60 to 1.80, which we make 160 to 180 (remove decimals or multiply by 100, either or, it's the same).

Egad! That's pretty high! A genius.

Is the little girl mature enough physically (coordination) and emotionally to handle 8 and 9-year-old peers? Maybe not. In addition, the magic age 9 or 4th Grade (ages 9-10) is the reading-level demarcation at which children begin to understand right from wrong. Many people like to say that children know right from wrong before that, many others like to say they do not. The fact is that the brain of most kids ery much under 4th Grade level cannot solidly make the determination between right and wrong on a consistent basis. Younger children often cannot tell the difference between truth, lies, and imagination. Now, on top of this is piled the heavy fact that age 8 is a demarcation line at which a child enters into a different, higher level of physical/mental/emotional maturity.

Can our little 5-year-old handle all this demarcation among the tumultuous sea of 3rd Graders that tower over her in the foreign terrain of her new classroom? Likely, no. What good then, is this IQ test?

The best application of an IQ score in many minds (pun) is in the determination of the subject's potential school achievement.

Therefore, i ask, of what use is it, if a 90-year-old has a mental age of 120? Her IQ is roughly 133, pretty high in comparison to the general population. Is she going to go to school? Possibly. Is she going to use the information to brag to her peers in the old age home? Forgive the analogy but everyone, to some minds, past the late 80s seems to be all one age - 200 - so is IQ important and does anybody care? In a way, yes --

Seniors with higher IQs tend to resist Alzheimers' for a longer number of years than those with lower IQs.

Note - In a book about reading levels, one author wrote," I am 37 years old, but I read at the 39 year grade level." That statement makes one draw a blank before laughing out loud.

Another set of minds postulates that the best way to measure intelligence is to drop an individual into a significantly different culture without knowledge of that culture (especially language) and see if he/she can survive and even thrive. In this scenario and test, the less one is able to get along, the lower is one's IQ.

Viejos comiendo sopa, by Fransico de Goya

Two old people, one is older.
Two old people, one is older.

IQ-Slashing Culprits

Altogether, I tested clients with IQ tests for over 10 years, some of the people more than once. My conclusions forthcoming are based, in part, on that material.

Someone said that it is popular consensus that the IQ begins to decline at age 45. It does not.

Some factors that lead to decreased IQ from higher ranges or from the average range (90-110) at any age, but which can also be exacerbated by older age are:

  • Chronic pain
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep; fatigue
  • Improper nutrition
  • Low blood sugar status
  • Illnesses and medical conditions
  • Working/studying/Internet playing too many hours in a block - Productivity and IQ decline. Computer use has shown to counteract many of the declines of again, including memory loss, lack of concentration, and others.
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Obesity - (?) - Indirectly; sedentary lifestyle and inactivity resulting from obesity are the culprits.
  • Deteriorating hearing and eyesight.
  • Other

Counteracting all of these things usually can be accomplished, except in the case of permanent CNS or brain damage done through exposure to toxins. We found in the 1990s that the brain and CNS continue to heal from many types of injuries, more often physical traumas, as long as the patient lives. Posionings often can be final and unchangeable without a miracle.

THE BRAIN MATTER THAT INCREASES WITH AGE

Individuals over the 50-year age demarcation begin to develop additional (new) white matter in (and perhaps around) the brain. This white matter helps to synthesize, and connect up in a meaningful way, the knowledge and experience rolling around in the brain already, along with any that is added to it. This matter is helped along if the individual remains physically and mentally active, well nourished, and unexposed to toxins, among other factors. All this can help to counteract the declines seen in aging amd we hope that the declines can be eliminated in the future.

A REAL LOSS - MEMORY

Memory is part of many IQ tests. Seniors often retain long-term memories, while losing short-term and intermediate memories quite readily. This is part of the usual aging process and in this regard, people over 45 will begin to decline in IQ because their memories will begin to decline, unless they are exercising their bodies and their mental/memory abilities.

See the offered links about variables above for more information.

It would be a pitty to start declining at age 45, need to be self-employed for 20 years, be unable to do so because of aging declines and then die penniless and miserable at 100 or older. I think the scenario can be prevented.

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Comments 11 comments

BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

I honestly "feel" younger than I did 10 years ago. Of course, I've lost nearly 200 lbs. Since then. :)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Then your IQ has likely risen 200 points :) -Glad to have smart friends!


lightning john profile image

lightning john 6 years ago from Florida

Interesting! So you are saying that IQ testing is pointless? I believe that proper nutrition is very important, especially in the elderly. Thanks for writing this I really like it.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

A lot of very interesting points and a thought provoking article. I am not be funny but every since I joined hub I am sure my IQ and memory improved tremendously. I am so glad I did.


cristina327 profile image

cristina327 6 years ago from Manila

This is indeed an excellent hub. Thank you for sharing this great wealth of information here at Hubpages. Remain blessed always. Best regards.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Patty the IQ-Slashing Culprits are a must for parents - a greta hub, really made me think (no pun intended).


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 6 years ago

Another A++++++++++++ Hub Patty!! Thank you for sharing!!

I've been pondering the affects of hormones/menopause on IQ for the last couple of years!! I know I still have the brain power, but often it seems lost in a fog - like my brain is full of cotton balls!!?? I consciously push them out of the way to locate answers!??

At the same time, I am connecting the dots on more complex social issues faster, and recognizing problem people quicker!!

I am fastidious about health - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual! I do spend a lot of time helping an older friend of mine deal with his slip into Alzheimer's!! Sometimes I feel I am slipping with him!!

Blessings again for such a GREAT Hub!!

Earth Angel!!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

A fine kettle of comments and I'm enjoying every one!

@lightning john and @Hello, hello - I think IQ is useful, but often used for the wrong purpose. Kids with higher IQs can be given special projects to do in school for part of the afternoon, I think. Astronauts that do the best in the "other-culture submersion" scenario are the best ones to send to Mars, in my opinion. I think writing and reading HubPages DOES increase IQ!

@cristina and @billy - I am charmed by your comments. Parent might indeed benefit form having the list of culprits, too.

@Earth Angel! - So sorry for your friend's condition. Do the new medications for Al's show any promise?

As for the cotton balls - some exercise daily like a brisk walk and some breathing exercises - deep breathing help a lot of women during this time. Also, crossword puzzles, logi problem puzzles, and using the computer. Writing an article helps. Listening to Baroque music helps. Praying for a clear mind helps.

A doctor whose work I read said that he prayed slinetly for the Al's and developmentally disabled (DD) clients he saw and exmamined regularly in nursing homes and it seemed to help both them and him.


The Good Cook profile image

The Good Cook 6 years ago

You've made some excellent points, especially this one "The national retirement system expects him to work until age 75, but he is laid off at age 50 for being "too old" (not stated in so many words, but: "They lose IQ, you know!"

I'm 50 - should I be scared or just terrified?


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

That's an interesting read. Authorities like to pidgeon hole us if they can.

In the UK they are looking at increasing the retirement age again but still many employers will not employ "older" people.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

@The Food Cook - Fri 5/28 I rec'd notice - for full SS pay I must work to AGE 70! Used to be 66 or 67. They can change it any time. Fine; I'm healthy. In Russia until about the 1970s, people worked 365 days a year.

@ethel - In Asia, the older people are more respected still, I think. I was shocked to see a homeless Korean Senior Citizen in my Ohio city. It's unheard of in South Korea.

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