The idea that you were born to do something specific just got a big boost from science. A new study shows that looking at brain activity, detected through fMRI scans, is a fairly accurate way to measure intelligence.
The downside? Those same scans could also reveal the potential for mental illness, addiction and other issues that could be used to discriminate against a person.
The news comes via Wired, which reported on the new study published in Nature Neuroscience. As part of the Human Connectome Project, the researchers tried to predict how well 126 subjects would perform on a cognitive test — each performing motor, memory and intelligence tests — by analyzing their fMRI scans.
The researchers are mapping brains to better understand “abstract reasoning ability,” or how gray matter fires and processes information. They call it “fluid intelligence.”
Researchers found that a “strong connection between the frontal and parietal lobes, especially, meant a high fluid intelligence score.”
“The more certain regions are talking to one another, the better you’re able to process information quickly and make inferences,” Emily Finn, a grad student at Yale and co-author of the study, told Wired.
As part of an area called “intelligence research,” eventually researchers told Wired that it could be used to assess job applicants and children to determine which environments they’d thrive in.
Or, as with school admissions, insurance coverage and job applications, it could lead to a whole another set of problems neuroethicists call “neurodiscrimination.”
The reality that a person’s path could be predetermined before he or she even hits preschool may happen sooner than we think.