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How a child's intelligence may be measured
Even the experts cannot agree on exactly what intelligence is, but that has not stopped attempts to measure it.Your intelligence is likely to be tested at all stages of your life - at school, if you enter the armed or civil services, even sometimes when you apply for a job. These tests are designed to measure your ability to solve problems, and contain questions about numbers, language and shapes.
The first tests of intelligence were produced in 1905 by Alfred Binet, at the request of the French government. They wanted to identify children with learning difficulties, so extra tuition could be given. In 1916, the American psychologist Lew Terman, who was working at Stanford University in California, adapted the Binet tests, and coined the term 'intelligence quotient', or IQ. These tests became known as the Stanford-Binet tests.
The original Stanford-Binet tests asked a series of questions relating to numbers, words and objects, to determine the mental age of the person doing the test (as opposed to his or her actual age). The tests were given to a large number of people of the same age at the same time. The average number of right answers achieved was the average mental age of that group, and each member of the group was judged against its average.
The mental age of a person was then divided by his or her actual age, and multiplied by 100 to calculate the IQ. So, if your mental age was 16 and your actual age was 15, you had an IQ of 106. These tests were given to children up to the age of 18. After the age of 15, the rate of development skills slows down, so the comparison of mental age to actual age becomes less relevant.
New tests have been produced since the original Stanford-Binet, which more accurately measure the intelligence of today's population. But they still work on the same basic principles as the original tests.
The average score is 100. Fifty per cent of people tested have an IQ of between 90 and 110. If your IQ is over 100, it means that according to the tests, you are more intelligent than average. But in fact, your score only reveals how well you complete intelligence tests.
Different IQ tests also produce various results for the same person. For example, a test of verbal ability (reading and language) might give quite different results from a test of reasoning or maths. Although this is connected to your ability to do things in real life, there are many other influences.
Research has shown that cultural background, motivation (or lack of it), class differences, changes in family structure and home conditions, and even the rapport between the tester and the person being tested, all affect the final IQ score achieved.
The intelligence tests described here are a comparative measure - they compare the person being tested with a standardisation sample. People with very high and very low ability are 'off the scale'. There are no standards to measure their ability against because no large sample of that ability has been tested. So reports of children with IQs of 170 or 220 are only assessments.
Binet was convinced that a person's intelligence changes in their lifetime, but there are many who believe intelligence is inherited and does not vary.
New Stanford-Binet tests are now used in conjunction with a variety of others, such as the British Ability Scales. These systems are designed specifically for adults (where age is not necessarily taken into consideration), schoolchildren and preschool children, whereas the Stanford-Binet tests were created primarily for schoolchildren. Systems other than Stanford-Binet are also geared to a more accurate assessment of cultural minorities, whose scores were lower than they should have been on the Stanford-Binet tests, which were designed for white, Westernised children.
TESTING YOUR INTELLIGENCEIntelligence tests measure what a person has learned as well as his or her ability to solve problems in different areas, such as maths, language, logic and spatial perception. But since some people's aptitudes lie predominantly in one area rather than another, and some tests are culturally influenced, these tests cannot determine a person's general level of intelligence.
How do you remember?
In Rangoon, Burma, in 1974, a man called Bhandanta Vicitsara recited 16,000 pages of Buddhist text from memory. That sort of memory is phenomenal, but almost everyone is able to remember surprisingly large amounts of information. Despite this, you forget a new telephone number almost immediately after you dial it.
This apparent contradiction occurs because people have two types of memory. Short-term memory can retain only six or seven items for up to a minute. Long-term memory can retain much more complex information for years and even decades.
Scientists have discovered that short and long-term memory are located in different parts of the brain. Short-term memory is found in the middle of the brain, but long-term memory is located all over the outer part. This is why, when a disease or stroke affects the inner part of the brain, and results in memory loss, the victim can remember events leading up to his memory loss, because they are part of his long-term memory, but cannot store new memories.Psychologists know that memory is linked to the five senses. During the learning phase, a child who has reached the age of six has a vocabulary of 6000 words. Throughout the rest of his life the average person will acquire only another 14,000. Yet the foundations are laid before he can read, so he has learned these sounds by their meaning, rhythm and tone, and by association.
When information is held in the long-term memory, it is probably translated into some kind of picture and stored in the nerve cells in the outer part of the brain. There are more than 100,000 million such cells, each of which has 10,000 connections to other cells, making the network unbelievably complex.
The information in the cells is probably stored by chemicals which alter the way the cells work and the way they are connected to each other.
Something in a person's short-term memory can be transferred to his long-term memory by repetition and learning. The information is actually transferred by chemical messengers. These messengers are molecules which travel from one brain cell to another. Each molecule causes a specific action, and so 'transmits' a message.
So even though you may forget a telephone number you have just dialled, you can eventually store it in your long-term memory if you are going to need it in the future.