Brain Size Does Not Define Intelligence

December 15, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. equate / ɪˈkweɪt / (v.) – to say that two things are equal
Example: Getting a college degree does not always equate to getting a good job.

2. bearing / ˈbɛər ɪŋ / (n.) – a connection
Example: Their scores for the examination have no bearing on their final grades.

3. validate / ˈvæl ɪˌdeɪt / (v.) – to confirm
Example: The students will take a test to validate their performance.

4. advent / ˈæd vɛnt / (n.) – the arrival or beginning of something
Example: The advent of the Internet made information more accessible.

5. rather / ˈræð ər / (adv.) – to a certain degree
Example: The students’ IQ test performance were rather impressive.


Read the text below.
Brain size does not directly equate to a high intelligence quotient (IQ), experts say.

A study published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews suggests that the size of the brain does not have a huge bearing on the level of human intelligence. This is contrary to the longstanding belief of some scientists that there is a high association between brain size and intellect.

The “large brain, high IQ” connection has been a debate among experts for more than a century. In 1836, German anatomist Friedrich Tiedemann supported the belief that a strong connection exists between the size of the brain and the intellectual powers and functions of the mind.

Through further studies that are more geared toward reliable investigations of the human brain, other researchers aimed to validate this belief. The advent of brain imaging methods such as MRI, EEG, and MEG enabled researchers to accurately assess brain volume and intelligence differences.

Jakob Pietschnig [YAH-kob PEECH-neeg], the lead researcher from the University of Vienna, explained that brain volume has a minor role in defining human IQ, regardless of a person’s sex or age. This conclusion is based on data analyzed from more than 8,000 participants.

Although results of the study show that there is indeed an association between brain size and IQ, the connection is rather weak. Based on findings, the structure of the brain appears to play a more vital role in explaining human intelligence. For instance, men have larger brains than women according to studies. However, there are no differences in the IQ test performance of both sexes.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What is the importance of knowing the connection between brain size and human intelligence?
·         Given the chance, would you be willing to participate in a study on the brain and human intelligence? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think being intelligent is the most important skill in life (such as in school and in work)? Why or why not?
·         How can people improve their intellect?

December 15, 2015