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Psychology

A Theory of the Brain: IQ Tests & Intelligence

Abstract

The brain has several processes that seem independent of each other, such as listening and speaking; to take two instances of skills that despite seemingly inter-related are actually performed in separate areas of the brain. Similar conclusions can be drawn about multiple different skills that humans possess – mental ones such as mathematics, music and language, as well as physical skills of dancing or athletics. From observational inferences and deductive reasoning we can reasonably reach the conclusion that higher IQ has a good correlation with higher power of comprehension. The question that this paper would like to address is that of how this comprehension power actually works and how it is related to the powers of abstract pattern recognition which most of the IQ tests measure. It would also like to develop some sort of a theoretical model that could explain how the comprehension actually works inside the brain, which can bear out the observations that are seen in the actual world.

Theoretical Model

With specified education and diligent work most people can achieve greater levels of expertise, comprehension and understanding of specialized subjects compared to people with higher intelligence but lower levels of experience in the relevant areas. The paper of course tries to demonstrate the difference between the intelligences of people while removing the effects of prior education or specialized training.

The central idea behind the paper is to assume that separate areas in the brain do the higher processing tasks such as music or mathematics but that several of the processing areas do overlap. Not only that, the higher comprehension skills and pattern recognition abilities presents themselves in the form often of enhanced learning capabilities. One of the main tenets of this paper is to present learning as an ability to create internal mental structures that help logically analyze a problem and the creation and subsequent ability to use it is what is referred to hereafter as comprehension or learning. For example, learning calculus or French by looking at a few initial formulae/sentences and creating an internal structure, a rulebook, or when and how they can be used would be an example of the way higher intelligence or IQ usually presents.

The measurement of abstract pattern recognition skills would help in this area. It helps to see if the test subjects are able to quickly and accurately create a mental construct of a rulebook in their minds that helps analyze the given data and come up with a possible solution to the problem given. This is what distinguishes some students from quickly understanding some things while other struggle. There are times when this ability can be learnt, such as when one reaches a certain level of mastery in any subject through diligent practice, but that ability will be discussed later.

Creating Mental Constructs

The idea behind this theory is that people with higher IQs are able to learn and understand concepts faster because they are able to independently assess and create inside their minds mental models of the various rules and framework within which the concepts operate, enabling faster learning.

Creation of these consists of three main portions, which are, of course, inputs, the processing and the outputs. With regards to a lot of skills these items can be specialized. People can possess specialized inputs for music, as well as skills of specialized processing and outputs. These are, for the purposes of explanation in this paper, specialized neural pathways that are sometimes created, some natural while some artificial accidents, in people’s brains which leads to magnificent gifts in mathematics or music while it might not be immediately relevant to the IQ tests or general intelligence as it relates to comprehension.

But dealing with the parts that aren’t directly related to specialization we can start with the idea that a lot of learning relates to understanding and application of concepts.

First of all, the creation of internal mental models from given examples requires the bridging of several gaps that exist when only sketchy information is available. This bridging is the process that people with higher pattern recognition skills (higher IQ) demonstrate better than their peers.

A large part of the intelligence tests also test speed, however this isn’t necessarily a sign of higher cognitive skills. These can probably measure gradations in the IQ but are not indicative necessarily of higher intelligence. Even with higher speeds for certain types of cognition, larger intuitive leaps or comprehension cannot be achieved with the same processing skills regardless of the brain speed.

The intuitive leaps that happen to connect the dots and develop greater patterns are the basic parameter by which intelligence is defined and it is in this area that the IQ tests have certain familiarity and usefulness.

Memory

The question can be made of how memory relates to increased intelligence as whole is a hard one. Increased memory does help a lot because it enables recollection from a vast amount of varied information whose juxtaposition would be useful for intelligence as it pertains to pattern recognition. Having a larger vessel to draw from makes it possible to draw newer and different conclusions and to see varied patterns in the same data that might not have been possible to see without the benefit of those memories and the perspectives they bring. This could be the reason for greater wisdom that older people are purported to possess.

Part of the reason behind higher intelligence and pattern recognition is also that of the instant and replaceable memory that is used while solving problems – the RAM of the mind. What is of equal importance however is also the ΔRAM, which is the speed with which the major components in the memory are changed in order to recognize newer patterns as well as the increasing complexity of the items within the RAM. The second component can be altered through education and preparation but the first one depends very much on internal neuron wiring. This change requires the correct identification and choosing of the right subsets of information nuggets in the mind that are perceived to be useful to the problem at hand. This in itself is a pattern recognition pathway, which is similar to the larger issue of the intelligence and problem solving, much in an analogous fashion to fractal geometry.

Conclusion

What the thought experiment of the model of the human brain above demonstrates is a possible explanation of how intelligence works as well as provide an understanding of the usefulness of IQ testing as it relates to the human cognition rather than its correlation or predictive ability with respect to science and mathematics.

Maths is held in high esteem because of its perceived, and often measures, ability to predict intellectual capacity. Children with higher IQs are often also better at mathematics than their peers. An explanation of this phenomenon, which springs from the model above, is that mathematics, more than any other science, relies on the purer aspects of internal data manipulation and intuitive leaps. Higher level maths skills such as is used in PhDs are not the case discussed here as the information gap is too high to reach that level, and a certain level of education cannot be avoided.

Another curious distinction is that higher mental speed and memory are not necessarily intertwined with intelligence to such an extent that they are inseparable. Both these qualities in isolation can be developed through practice without achieving an increased level of understanding as exhibited by people with higher intelligence for comparison. These factors are undoubtedly useful and probably the prevalence of these traits is higher at a statistically significant level amongst the gifted, but those could be measurement errors rather than a necessary component. After all, many people with normal intelligence have similar memory and mental speed without exhibiting the levels of comprehension that the gifted often possess.

What this means is that the mental processes of a polymath or a supposed genius is in fact fairly different from the ordinary mental processes in its ability to perceive patterns from lesser information, create logical mental models out of it that fits the given data, and to generate predictions from it that holds to the selfsame mental model. This article is just to provide a new look at the processes involved to see how the brain itself interacts at one level of abstraction beyond the neurons to see if this can be understood.

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