IQ, How Does It Change? Knowns and Unknowns.

  • May 2, 2014 · 7:30 PM
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In a symposium in university of Vermont (focusing on risks and resilience factors in child development), I heard a moving story about a brain-damaged fetus being born to an extraordinary mother whose single-minded focus on her baby's cognitive development correlated with the child growing up to be a genius.

I invited my friend and colleague Dr Sherif Karama (assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at McGill University) to join us in our group and talk to us about this particular story and his research about the link between brain plasticity, genes and intelligence.

I apologize for this short notice, but this is a unique and an excellent opportunity to ask an expert all you wanted to know about IQ and the brain but were scared to ask.

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  • Barbara M.

    Love it!

    May 4

  • Marianne

    Dear Naj!!!
    I was thinking about your request to right our opinions about yesterday subject of presentation, but was a little scare, cause I didn't want to disregard very good, knowledgeable and professional presenter by seditious thought you did exactly expressed. You've red my mind. I do feel so relieved!!! Thank you!!!Feel like we need more discussion in a socio-economic perspective.

    May 3

    • Naj

      We had a fantastic speaker and I think he did a great job trying to provide us a comprehensive overview of the literature, in its historical scientific context. It is important to know what it is that determines our different talents; and he was very careful to explain the limitations of IQ and to explain it as a "summary" variable (or g-factor) that is trying to make sense of a whole bunch of other measured parameters, but with main focus on things like linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, interpersonal, and kinesthetic abilities. These are the "requirements"­ for performing certain functions, so of course they are in essence "economic" metrics, not social, or psychological ones. And Barbara's great examples illustrate that nicely.

      May 3

  • Barbara M.

    What particularly interests me is what society defines as being successful - is being brilliant ‘successful’? What’s the point of being brilliant if you don’t achieve something with your brilliance? Is it better to be a fully-rounded, happy human than be 'brilliant but stupid', as my Dad used to say?!! I believe contentment is the ultimate achievement in life - happiness is momentary, whereas contentment is a state of being. Perhaps some of these brilliant kids find happiness, and even contentment, in pursuing their studies - but when you look at the outcome of their lives, I wonder. Is a high IQ a curse, then?

    And what about the fine balance between ‘hot-housing’ and allowing children to learn at their own (fast) pace? Boredom definitely leads to problems - but how far should you push a child? And why are there such anomalies in brain capacity? We touched on that last night - but of course, we could talk for hours more!!!

    2 · May 3

    • Naj

      Well, at a philosophical level, I think we should not even measure happiness. In other words, trying to present these poorly definable concepts (happiness, sadness, success) with metrics is a futile exercise in principle. It is futile because we cannot reproduce them (or at least not yet). We imagine that with neuroimaging, we have access to an "objective" yardstick … but I have my doubts about that as well (ironic, heh?). I say, why not spend the money that is to go to "measuring" intelligence, be spent on creating intelligence (better paid teachers, smaller classes?), instead of measuring "happiness", create happiness (public parks, better welfare systems, less stressful workplaces, bike paths) … Among the many variables that we need to measure in the brain, intelligence, is the least urgent one. For example ...

      2 · May 3

    • Naj

      for example, environmental toxins, food, noise, urban stress, sub-urban stress. But, as an entire culture, we see ourselves in the mirror of intelligence; that is what is putting us on the higher level of "evolutionary"­ hierarchy. we are obsessed with "intelligence"­, we are not as obsessed with "reason" or with "peace", or with the "common denominators of our humanity" … but of course, we are humans, we are curious, and we are fascinated by our "selves" and science is at our service to create evidence of a truth we wish to find.

      2 · May 3

  • Barbara M.

    As usual, last night’s discussion was well-researched and prompted a fascinating and diverse discussion. The mention of Michael Kearney led to a brief discussion about the phenomena of child prodigies, and I mentioned the British girl Ruth Lawrence, who went to Oxford University at 12. Curious about where/how she - and others - are now, I did some research and thought you might find the following articles interesting, albeit rather unscientific (can’t beat a bit of popular press sometimes ;-) ):

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Interview%3A+Ruth+Lawrence+-+I+will+not+put+my+son+through+the+hothouse...-a062485928

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/3636101/Sufiah-Yusof-child-genius-revealed-as-prostitute.html

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/what-happens-child-geniuses-once-391319

    2 · May 3

  • Carlos

    cool

    1 · May 3

    • Naj

      Hi Carlos, the discussions got much more interesting (and less statistical) after you left. Looking forward to hear more from your chemical perspective.

      May 3

  • A former member
    A former member

    Interesting-to-me, also is the "very good brain day" I recently experienced. My constant struggle with environmental toxins that seriously affect my brain's function means I have many muddled days and some days when I feel reasonably functional. This particular day was incredible: I was my good old extremely efficient, organized self, effortlessly remembering everything that needed to be done and with the energy to accomplish it all - cheerfully. WHY? If I were that organized the other 99% of the time, I could keep a detailed log of possible factors. I cannot make that happen so the why is still a mystery - the right confluence of food, supplements, weather, sleep, detox, lack of toxins in my environment.... Brain fog is hell on earth.

    April 30

    • Naj

      This is very interesting, and I think our speaker will explain that as well.

      April 30

  • A former member
    A former member

    Although I am making the choice to go to my music event rather than this interesting-to-me event, I have some thoughts on the subject. A McGill prof, many years ago, did research on the effect of three specific first grade teachers on the IQ of their students. He tested the students as they entered grade one and again in grade 6. Those who had had a teacher who did not care for boys: the IQ of the boys who had her in grade 1 dropped by grade 6. Same for the teacher who did not care for girls. The impartial teacher's students maintained their IQ level. Just an example of how easy it is to harm the developing brain.

    Currently, I am pondering the fact that we now are becoming aware of how much a fetus is affected, while still in utero, by what is happening in the environment - type of music they hear, loud noises, family dynamics, etc. It does seem probable that the potential IQ for an individual can be changed even before birth. I believe these possibilities deserve some thought.

    1 · April 30

  • Naj

    Dear all, please note a little change in the time of the event. Our conference room is booked and we will hold the meeting at the Senselab (Same building, the art studio). I also like to delay our start time by half an hour (7:30 now) as the lab will be occupied in the late afternoon and I want to be sure we will not be disturbing or disturbed. Looking forward to seeing you there.

    April 28

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am doing better and have a mask that helps. However, I have an impending move of household!!!!! Not at all looking forward to the time, effort and logistics involved. Do not even know when - 2-4 weeks. Move is a four letter word! Pick an evening in early June - NOT Friday, Sat, Sun or Mon? Read my blogs on wordpress. Questions? Ideas? I am deeply concerned that the nature and problems of MCS become more widely known. Health care for this is an oxymoron, imo, as most practitioners know little or nothing and can do far more harm than good.

    April 24

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sounds interesting and there is nothing I would be afraid to ask. However, on Friday evenings, I soothe my addled brain with good music in Ormstown. Today has been what I call a "good brain day": I am remembering to do things and feel reasonably functional as compared with the "bad brain" days when I have trouble making sense of fairly ordinary bits of life. As I never know what a day will be until it happens, I am skipping tomorrow's interesting event. however, if anyone has read an interesting book on these brain subjects that are not hyper-scientific, I would appreciate hearing of them. Does anyone know, for example, if there is a discussion forum or FB page on the subject of brain function/dysfunction?

    1 · April 24

    • Naj

      Hi Dorothy, I know you are a bit sensitive to air quality in our art studio location. Just wanted to let you know that the IQ even will be held in a different room (it's a seminar room) and hopefully more comfortable for you. By the way, won't you like to give a presentation for us at some point? the invitation remains open :)

      April 24

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