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Thinking too much might not be smart.

Thinking too much might not be smart

Figures of speech describing the process of problem-solving often use energy-intensive imagery in which our brains are kept busy "cranking out answers," "grinding away at problems" and "crunching numbers." But new research suggests that mental performance need not be so trying.

Richard Haier of the University of California at Irvine has preliminary data showing a relationship between higher scores on intelligence tests and lower rates of metabolism in the brain's cortical areas. One interpretation of the research, he says, is that people who perform better on intelligence tests may have more energy-efficient neural circuitry.

Haier had his subjects perform the Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices test, a difficult, standardized, nonverbal test of abstract reasoning, while he performed positron emission tomography (PET) scans on their brains. The test requires that subjects recognize a pattern within a matrix of abstract designs and then select another design that completes the pattern. PET scans allow direct measurement of brain function by graphically depicting areas with higher glucose metabolism.

"Although one might assume that a good performer's brain would 'work harder' than that of a subject who did poorly," says Haier, "our data suggest that the opposite is true."
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Title Annotation:people who score higher on intelligence tests may have more energy-efficient neural circuitry
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 27, 1988
Words:200
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