News / Science & Technology

Motion Filtering Ability Correlated to High IQ

A simple experiment in determining the direction black and white bars drifted in brief video clips proved to be a predictor of IQ.
A simple experiment in determining the direction black and white bars drifted in brief video clips proved to be a predictor of IQ.

Related Articles

Video Telescopes Spot Colliding Galaxies

The galaxies, called HXMM01, are about 11 billion light years from Earth

Study Identifies Risks of Human Spread of H7N9 Bird Flu

Study suggest that international measures to contain the H7N9 influenza, in the event of severe outbreak, will need to be targeted in Asia
VOA News
New research indicates there is a strong link between the brain’s ability to ignore useless information and intelligence.

Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York state say they can predict a person’s intelligence quotient, or IQ, using some simple visual tests.

Test subjects were asked to watch brief video clips of black and white bars moving across a computer screen within three different sized circles. They were asked to identify in which direction the bars drifted.

The exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visually distracting background motions. The study, researchers said, shows that individuals whose brains are better at automatically suppressing background motion perform better on standard measures of intelligence such as a written IQ test, which subjects were also given.

According to the study, subjects with higher IQ scores were able to perceive the direction of movement when observing the smallest image. The findings support previous research that people with higher IQs are able to make perceptual judgments more quickly and have faster reflexes.

However, the higher a person's IQ, the slower they were at detecting movement when presented with the larger images.

"From previous research, we expected that all participants would be worse at detecting the movement of large images, but high IQ individuals were much, much worse," says Michael Melnick, a doctoral candidate in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

The key discovery, researchers said, is how closely this natural filtering ability is linked to a person’s IQ score.

Researchers say there was a 64 percent correlation between motion or distraction suppression and IQ scores. Other research exploring the relationship between intelligence and color discrimination, sensitivity to pitch and reaction times only have shown a 20 to 40 percent correlation, scientists said.

"In our first experiment, the effect for motion was so strong," said Duje Tadin, a senior author on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. "I really thought this was a fluke."

The test represents the first non-verbal and culturally unbiased way to assess IQ, researchers said.

"Because intelligence is such a broad construct, you can't really track it back to one part of the brain," said Tadin. "But since this task is so simple and so closely linked to IQ, it may give us clues about what makes a brain more efficient, and, consequently, more intelligent."

According to the study, the relationship between IQ and motion suppression points to the fundamental cognitive processes that underlie intelligence. The brain’s ability to filter important information from the bombardment of sensory information is an indication of the brain’s efficiency and therefore intelligence.

"Rapid processing is of little utility unless it is restricted to the most relevant information," the authors conclude.

"We know from prior research which parts of the brain are involved in visual suppression of background motion. This new link to intelligence provides a good target for looking at what is different about the neural processing, what's different about the neurochemistry, what's different about the neurotransmitters of people with different IQs," says Tadin.

The unexpected link between IQ and motion filtering was reported online in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 23.

Here's a sample of the kind of test given:

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
May 27, 2013 6:46 AM
We can see what we want and we are blind to what we do not want.The decision wheter the objects are favorable or not for the subjects is possibly made at a moment by some way like intuition. This is only my two cents that those who are critical to their own tastes may have high IQ at least in the limited field of their own special concern.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama Cafe, TKO
May 24, 2013 8:13 PM
There is no correlation between the results of IQ test and the ability of study and work.
Most important thing is "grid" to do something.

By the way, I'm very happy with beautiful girls sitting next to me.

by: bill from: ohio
May 24, 2013 3:26 PM
i went thru the test a few times and it got much easier each time, does that mean my IQ is going up ?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs