Some other research has found that the left and right hemispheres of gifted people's brains tend to work together better. When asked to solve problems that required both sides of the brain to work together (because inputs came in different visual fields), boys who had scored well on the math section of the SAT as youngsters were able to solve these problems quicker than those of more average abilities. For the Science Daily write-up, see this article here.
What if, someday, we were able to measure someone's intelligence via brain scans? What if imaging gets to a point where we can measure just how quickly someone's left and right brain work together, or if certain structures are larger or more efficient -- and we come up with a way to map this onto generally accepted intelligence measurements? How would you feel about that?
My first thought was to be a bit apprehensive. After all, this sounds like a modern-day version of those old cranial measurements that were once used to "prove" that people of certain ethnic backgrounds were not quite all there, mentally.
But then I thought more about it. Head measurements are obviously an incredibly rough proxy for anything. Then again, IQ tests are a proxy, too. Through written or oral means, we are attempting to judge how quickly the brain is able to solve problems by piecing together previously learned information, how quickly it can assess patterns, and whether it can make inferences. The written and oral means introduce some hazards of their own. A child who's been given lots of logic puzzles will know how to solve these better than one who's never seen such games before. A kid who's been drilled on his letters will do better on a school readiness assessment (see the post on NYC's new gifted screening program, below).
A brain scan, on the other hand, may actually be able to measure raw intelligence. As such, wouldn't it be preferable to methods of measuring intelligence that might be more biased against children who haven't been exposed to certain information?
I'm curious what others think of the idea. It doesn't sit very well with me, but I'm really not sure why. Our culture has a strong narrative of the undiscovered genius, the diamond in the rough who doesn't necessarily shine on tests but is secretly brilliant. In theory, brain imaging could discover such a person, but no one likes the idea of one measurement determining anything of too much importance. What do you think?