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How Smart are you and Why?

Updated on March 4, 2012

How Smart are you and Why?

By Tony DeLorger © 2010


Intelligence Quotient or IQ has been a much-debated and studied measure, assessing intelligence based on many different testing methods and analysis to arrive at a scale and to discover a median. The term IQ was first proposed by German psychologist William Stern in 1912 to test children using the testing methods of Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon in the early part of the 20th century. The original scales and results have changed dramatically but the general methods of determining IQ remains.

The median IQ back in 1900 was around 70 and it has since been proven to increase about 3 points each decade. Today the average is 100 and growing. Why is this occurring and how can we increase our intellect?

Of course there are many factors that affect IQ. Firstly heredity plays a factor, but not genotypes alone hold the key. Family environments and socioeconomic factors go hand in hand with heredity when determining IQ. For example the type ‘C’ FADS2 gene and being breast-fed can add seven IQ points, while the ‘G’ version of the gene shows no advantage. Malnutrition can inhibit cognitive development and iodine deficiency can create a 12 IQ point deficit. That is one reason why third world countries have lower IQ levels. Also for children, learning a musical instrument can increase IQ. There are so many factors.

So both genes and environment can play and an important role in IQ, but in recent studies it was shown that regardless of heredity factors, in impoverished families 60% of variance in childhood IQ was because of shared environment. To further demonstrate this it was shown to be the reverse in affluent families. But the paradox exists that genotype can influence and change environment thus changing IQ. In other words those with higher IQ, regardless of circumstance, tend to seek out stimulating environments and further increase their IQ

The tests themselves that determine IQ can vary; some are verbal, some use abstract-reasoning problems and some concentrate on maths, spatial imagery, reading, vocabulary, memory and general knowledge. That alone gives us an idea of how variable the results can be, and how, because of certain natural propensities, we can either excel or have average scores dependant on the test.

So what is it about our environment and circumstance that improves our IQ? It has been proven in many studies that environmental stimulation can increase IQ drastically, even in adults. Cognitive demanding experiences are likely to have permanent affects on levels of IQ, regardless of age.

Intelligence is about how successfully we process information. In this age of technology we are far more engaged in dealing with information and thus stimulating our brains. The more reading, the more acquiring knowledge and the more we use our creativity the higher our IQ will become, over time. So keep the brain active and know that whatever your IQ is now, it can be bettered.

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