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Intellectual Functioning – Cognition (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, MD
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    00:01 Now, let’s get into higher level of intellectual functioning.

    00:06 So intelligence is something that is really hard to define.

    00:10 So there are different theories of intelligence.

    00:13 Intelligence may be subjective in nature and is a concept created by humans.

    00:17 So a lot of times we say, “This individual is very intelligent,” or “This individual is not intelligent.” Well, how are we deciding that somebody is more intelligent than the other? Is it in the recall of facts? Is it the ability to problem-solve? How do we define that? So the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use knowledge and adapt to new situations, we tend to say is a positive affirmation of intelligence.

    00:42 So, general intelligence is a foundational ability that underlies more specialized abilities.

    00:47 So if you have a base of general intelligence, that means you’re really good at a lot of the basics, but then, you can specialize your intelligence.

    00:54 So, for example, understanding the basics of society, of culture or understanding simple arithmetic.

    01:00 Things like that, reading, writing.

    01:01 That would be general intelligence.

    01:03 But then you go on and you specialize and you write the MCAT and you get into medical school and you specialize in a special area of intelligence now you’re increasing your level of intelligence.

    01:14 So, other theories classify intelligence into two broad categories; we have crystallized intelligence and we have fluid intelligence.

    01:21 Crystallized intelligence is accumulated knowledge of facts.

    01:25 So, like I said, you just keep stacking up knowledge, keep stacking up knowledge.

    01:29 This is somebody who you might say is extremely book-smart.

    01:33 Then, you have fluid intelligence and this is the ability to reason abstractly in novel situations.

    01:38 This is when I want to see how you can implement the knowledge that I’ve been parted through the books.

    01:44 So a lot of times when you’re writing an exam, you’ll have straight recall.

    01:47 You know, so on a list, name the five structures found in the brain.

    01:51 Boom, boom, boom, boom.

    01:52 That’s pretty straightforward.

    01:53 Then you have a question that’s testing your problem-solving abilities.

    01:58 So little Timmy was skateboarding and he fell and banged his head pretty hard on a pile of rocks and he no longer can remember his name.

    02:05 What structure was damaged? Okay. So now I need to know what are the structures of the brain and what is the functional role of each, and I damage which one, what’s going to happen to the behavior? Okay. You know what? It’s probably the hippocampus.

    02:19 And boom. That’s your answer.

    02:21 So now, you’ve actually taken some of that accrued, accumulated knowledge and you’ve tried to use it to reason to a problem that I’ve put in front of you; crystallized versus fluid intelligence.

    02:34 So, is intelligence in your genes or is it a product of your environment? That’s a great question.

    02:40 So, are you a smarty pants because your parents are smarty pants or are you a smarty pants because you’ve just hustled your way and read books and gone to school and done your thing, and done your due diligence? Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag.

    02:51 So we know that research within families looking at siblings versus twins versus adopted children shows significant heritability.

    03:01 So in English, what we’re saying is there is this genetic link.

    03:04 So, if your brother’s a genius and if your parents are really, really smart, there’s a higher likelihood that you will be of higher intelligence as well.

    03:15 Partly because of that information that is gained from your family, from immediate family.

    03:20 And then you can look at, say if somebody’s adopted, do you see that same level of intelligence? And it’s kind of a - this is kind of a semi - I don’t want to say trick part, but this is an overlapping point, and that adopted children have a lower level of heritability of intelligence.

    03:38 So if you’re - I’ll say this in English then.

    03:39 If you’re adopted, you might not be as smart as your non-adopted siblings and your parents because they have a stronger genetic link.

    03:46 You don’t share genetics with your adopted parents.

    03:49 Now, that being said, we know that environment and life experience also has a direct impact.

    03:53 So if you are an adopted child and you’re in a family that is highly intelligent, reads a lot of books, and supports higher education, and you’re in that environment, that will impact your level of intelligence.

    04:06 So with the adopted children, it’s a combination of lack of heritability but being in that common environment.

    04:12 So environment and life experience has a direct impact on level of intelligence.

    04:17 So those that are lower on the SES scale, we now have lower intelligence scores, and we know that is a combination of a lot of things.

    04:25 But those that are lower on the SES scale tend to have less education, tend to have lower quality of life, more health issues, and have less access to social resources like libraries and good schools, and so that will obviously have a direct impact on your intelligence scores.

    04:44 Now, early intervention and education can increase intelligence scores dramatically.

    04:50 So, if you - even if you’re in this environment of being in a low SES environment, you can still over time accrue a lot of knowledge and become quite intelligent, which is, you know, so we’re not saying that just because you were born in a less affluent area, you’re doomed to be dumb.

    05:07 That’s not what we’re saying at all.

    05:08 We’re just saying that looking at raw population trends, if you are to take the average of a low SES versus high SES, intelligence scores tend to be lower in those that are low on the SES scale.

    05:22 Now, differences in scores have been seen between race and culture, and this is also kind of muddy water here.

    05:28 So this is not to say that one specific race is smarter than another, a lot of that is tied into race and culture.

    05:36 So high-scoring individuals have been shown to have high levels of education and income, and so how was that happening? Well, like I’ve mentioned a moment ago, if you are higher on the SES scale, you have more education, you tend to have a better job, you’re going to live up a more engaged, privileged life.

    05:56 You might have -- you should have a higher score versus somebody who’s having to work very hard, doesn’t have access to education, great schools, great teachers, and all the different social support.

    06:05 They’re going to fall a little bit lower.

    06:08 Standardized testing can quantify intelligence scores and you get a quotient, so an IQ quotient or intelligence quotient.

    06:16 And here you can see a figure that kind of maps out what we call a normal distribution.

    06:20 And so, you have the bulk of the population falling in the middle with 100 being, you know, your standard average point of IQ, and then you have one standard deviation, which is one population segment, and then you have those that are below one standard deviation which anybody below 70 would say is quite low on the IQ scale.

    06:44 And then you have those that are all to the point where they’re labeled intellectual disability, and then we have those that are above 130 as being intellectually gifted.

    06:54 So, you know, we have people like Albert Einstein that scored exceptionally high.

    06:59 I think I believe his IQ is 167, so you can kind of see where he fell in terms of average IQ score.

    07:07 So you could try.

    07:08 If you’re really interested, go ahead and write an IQ test and see where you fall.

    07:12 And maybe do that after you write the MCAT because you don’t want to freak yourself out when you realize you have an IQ of 70.

    07:18 But this shows where you fall in relation to the population and it is an indirect measure of intelligence.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Intellectual Functioning – Cognition (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, MD is from the course Making Sense of the Environment.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Crystallized intelligence
    2. Fluid intelligence
    3. Collective intelligence
    4. Three stratum theory
    5. Multiple intelligence theory
    1. Fluid intelligence
    2. Crystallized intelligence
    3. Multiple intelligence
    4. Collective intelligence
    5. Triarchic theory
    1. More than 1 SD
    2. More than 2 SD
    3. More than 3 SD
    4. More than 0.5 SD
    5. More than 2.5 SD
    1. Birth weight
    2. Genes
    3. Enviornment
    4. Socioeconomic level
    5. Experiences

    Author of lecture Intellectual Functioning – Cognition (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, MD

    Tarry Ahuja, MD


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