What did you learn about human intelligence

Live healthy : Smart life

Out there, in the vastness of space, is there actually intelligent life? We humans have been asking ourselves this for a long time, but there is still no definitive answer to it. We continue searching. However, this search was preceded by a momentous finding - because the fact that we are looking for foreign intelligence at all proves that we are aware of our own intellect and are cognitively developed enough for self-reflection. Animals and plants cannot do that. So compared to them, we are more intelligent.

What is intelligence
The term intelligence is derived from the Latin »intellegere«, which means something like »to understand« and, based on the meaning of the word, already refers to a quick perception in unfamiliar situations. However, scientists still do not agree on how exactly intelligence can best be described. "If you ask 20 intelligence researchers today for a definition, you get 20 different answers," says Thomas Grüter, who researched neurophysiology as a doctor and non-fiction book author. To date, several, partly rival models exist to explain this phenomenon.
For example, as early as 1904, the British psychologist Charles Spearman developed the two-factor model of intelligence, which is still widely accepted today: It is composed of a g-factor and several s-factors. »The› g ‹stands for› general ‹and says that a general intelligence factor is always more or less involved in a different number of intelligence performances,« says Grüter. Thus Spearman unified a multitude of thought processes into "the" one intelligence. According to today's three-layer model, we can imagine human intelligence like a company in the brain, in which there is a board of directors (general factor), several departments (secondary factors) and up to 70 working groups (individual factors). However, critics of this model see this as a statistical construct and assume that different brain regions create the overall result largely independently of one another.
The American psychologist Robert Sternberg assumed that intelligence comes into play on several levels - namely in the context of analytical, practical and experience-based skills: Intelligence is primarily to be understood as the interaction of the individual with his environment. "For Sternberg, intelligence is not a fixed property, but rather the process of how information is processed," says Grüter. That then also makes the difference between the intelligence performance of the individual people.

Can you measure intelligence?
Whether it is age, professional qualification or academic ability: Intelligence tests exist in different forms and for different purposes. What these tests have in common is that the result is usually obtained as a number.
A look at the history book reveals that the French psychologist Alfred Binet and the doctor Théodore Simon jointly developed the first intelligence test for children in 1905. The German psychologist William Stern was the first to divide age by intelligence age and called the result "intelligence quotient (IQ)". Stern's American colleague David Wechsler revised this model and introduced a scale in 1932 that still took into account a statistical spread around the mean. "Today you can use standardized IQ tests, which take around two hours to complete, to predict how successful you will be in school or later in university," says expert Grüter. Similar to the PISA test, an intelligence test records cognitive performance of a general nature, but no special skills. After all, talents can manifest themselves in different ways, and a brain surgeon cannot automatically build a house or compose an opera - and vice versa. Today the IQ is around 70 percent of the world's population between 85 and 115, and the average IQ of a sane adult is 100.

Can intelligence be imitated with the help of technology?
From a biological point of view, processes in the cerebral cortex are particularly important for intelligence, because this is where neuronal stimuli are converted into sensations and perceptions. This enables us to think, perceive sensory impulses and control movements. "We now know that the frontal and lateral lobes of the brain are particularly crucial for intelligence," says researcher Grüter. This does not mean, however, that intelligence can only be limited to certain areas of the brain. Rather, the interconnection of the brain areas with one another and thus the brain as a whole play an important role - just like our genes and environmental influences, by the way. So many factors shape our intelligence. And together they shape our personality and our worldview.
Analogous to the complex processes in the human brain, scientists have been trying for decades to artificially create or apply intelligence. Nowadays, some devices are actually able to process complex data in a relatively intelligent way - such as automatic speech understanding, the recognition of natural patterns or the possibility of computer-generated opponents in video games reacting to the player's actions. "Modern chess programs, for example, achieve grandmaster status and can no longer be beaten by humans," says expert Grüter.
The decisive human factor, however, which the machines lack is a self-confidence with a capacity for abstraction. So the scenarios from science fiction books and films of man-made systems that act of their own accord and thus even develop into a threat to humanity remain fictitious for the time being.
Does intelligence make you happy?
All doors seem to be open to the intelligent. Because, as we now know from studies, intelligence has a major influence on educational success - which is often reflected in better school performance, a steeper career in the workplace and thus a higher social reputation. This is why some researchers think that a high IQ also makes proportionally happy.
Critics of this view, on the other hand, say that people with a lower IQ are more satisfied because, compared to the cunning, they are simply not intelligent enough to even recognize the often "bitter truth" of various areas of life. “The fact that a higher IQ goes hand in hand with higher academic degrees is ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says Grüter, “because, as I said, IQ tests were designed to predict academic abilities.” In real life, however, it is more relevant than how The professional activity turns out to be fulfilling for you - regardless of whether you are a bricklayer or a rocket scientist. Accordingly, happiness in life does not depend on the intelligence quotient.
In addition, a high IQ alone is not enough to automatically get along well at the interpersonal level - because it is not for nothing that we speak of emotional or social intelligence in connection with basic empathic behavior. So it seems to be most desirable if you can score points with both your brains and communication skills - if only because you still have an ace up your sleeve that Kurt Tucholsky described in a flowery way: “The advantage of being smart is that you feel stupid can put. The opposite is more difficult."

Our expert Thomas Grüter did research on neuropsychological topics as a doctor. He lives in Münster and is the author of the non-fiction book »Klüger als wir? On the way to hyperintelligence «.

The magazine for medicine and health in Berlin: "Tagesspiegel Gesund - Berlin's doctors for the brain and nerves".

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