According to a recent story in Wired, a paper published in Nature Neuroscience revealed that researchers have found a way to determine intelligence by mapping how the human brain is connected. The research is still in the early stages, but the potential could be far reaching in a variety of areas, from education to health care, to job placement.
In the study, a group of test subjects had their brains scanned in an fMRI. Then they underwent motor, memory, and intelligence tests, including a pattern completion test that measured abstract reasoning—what neuroscientists call fluid intelligence. After five years, the researchers were able to predict how well someone will do on these tests based on the way their brains are connected.
No two human brains are built the same way. Different areas of the brain communicate with one another in different ways. The more of these connections that exist, the better a person is at abstract reasoning. The biotechnology industry will doubtless use the insight in a host of areas.
Using this technique, schools can use brain scans of students to determine what sort of educational program will best suit them. Mental health professionals can use these scans to determine the functionality of various psychological ailments and craft a treatment regime. Businesses could use the scans to find out which job candidate is best suited for a particular position.
A couple of caveats come with the new technique. The fMRI scan only maps how certain areas of the brain are connected at a particular moment. Neuroscientists are still uncertain how these connections are made. Also, care has to be taken to make sure that using this technology will not become an excuse to commit a kind of neuro discrimination.
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