If you have taken an IQ test at some point in your life, whether at school or through an evaluation, the number you achieved way back when may not be the same number you would score today. That's because IQs can change over the years, according to new research. So instead of an IQ score being a benchmark of fixed intelligence that can be used as a predictor of success, it is really just a measurement of one "type" of intelligence at a randomly chosen point in time.
The study, conducted at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, provided IQ testing to 33 typical children between the ages of 12 and 16.2 The average score was 112, and ranged between 77 and 135 points. After four years, the researchers performed a follow-up and had the participants take another IQ test. At this time, the average score was 113, only one point higher than four years earlier -- not a big change.
Even more interesting, while taking the IQ tests, the volunteers were also undergoing brain imaging. The researchers' aim was to examine the gray matter in the various parts of the brain affecting IQ scores. And sure enough, the gray matter density differed between the first and second tests in the speech-related region when verbal scores changed. These types of real, measurable disparities show that changes are constantly taking place within our brains and affecting us, sometimes for the better and sometimes not so much.
The evidence all points to one important conclusion: exercise for our brains is just as important as exercise for our bodies. Cognitive declines may be a common part of aging, but we don't have to resign ourselves to that future. Listen to Jon Barron's latest podcast on mental health, aging, and find out some simple tips on how to improve your working memory skills and your IQ!