There are plenty of ways to measure intelligence -- or at the very least predict intelligence, since it's hard to get people to agree on what intelligence is, much less measure it. (A test that says I'm stupid must be wrong, right?) Spatial intelligence measures your ability to comprehend three-dimensional images and shapes. Emotional intelligence... well, if you read Justin Bariso's columns, you know EQ measures how well you understand, motivate, lead, and work with other people

And of course there are proxies for intelligence; for example, studies show that if you crave time alone, you may be smarter than average

Now there's another -- and very quick -- test you can take to get an indication of your IQ. Researchers at the University of Rochester created a test to determine the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. 

First, watch this brief video. The goal is to detect which way the black and white bars drift, whether from left to right or right to left.

The images were presented in different sizes because, generally speaking, it's harder for most people to see movement in larger images. Our brains tend to filter out background movement -- otherwise the world would seem incredibly cluttered and we would be early distracted. That's why most people do best on the smallest version of the bars; motion perception is optimal in an area roughly the width of your thumb when your hand is extended.

And that's why, when participants observed the smallest image, the people with higher IQ scores were faster at determining the movement of the bars. People with higher IQs tend to make faster perceptual judgments and have quicker reflexes. 

But when participants observed the largest image, those with higher IQs performed worse. p higher a person's IQ, the slower they were at detecting movement.

"From previous research, we expected that all participants would be worse at detecting the movement of large images, but high IQ individuals were much, much worse," said one of the researchers. That means their ability to focus is naturally better: They better filter out background movement to focus on small, nearby moving objects. 

That doesn't mean the test is perfect, but since the task is simple and closely linked to IQ, it may provide clues about what makes a brain more efficient, and therefore  more intelligent. (Efficiency always matters.)

"High IQ is associated with motion perception impairments as stimulus size increases," the researches said. "The results link intelligence and low-level suppression of sensory information. Suppressive processes are a key constraint of both intelligence and perception."

All of which means that if you had a much harder time determining the direction of movement of the bars when the image was large than when it was small... you probably have a high IQ. 

And that means you'll be able to work a lot smarter and harder than the rest of us -- which doesn't require research to know is a great predictor of future success.

Published on: Jan 22, 2018
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