Former NAN President quoted in Reader’s Digest story about intelligence

While most members of the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) are at the annual conference in Philadelphia this week, former NAN President Dr. John DeLuca is proving that, figuratively speaking, the organization is everywhere.

DeLuca, a neuropsychologist and senior vice president for research at the Kessler Foundation, was quoted extensively in a recent Reader’s Digest article about intelligence. The story, titled, “What is IQ and how well does it predict success?” appeared in the print edition of the magazine, and also was published on the Reader’s Digest website earlier this month.

In the story, DeLuca said each IQ test measures a slightly different set of cognitive skills. Some of these skills include verbal reasoning, math, visual-spatial reasoning, processing speed and working memory. DeLuca noted that IQ also measures verbal and nonverbal aspects of intelligence.

Specifically, he noted that IQ tests measure an overall intellectual factor, which has been referred to as a “g.” DeLuca said, “A lot of things go into that factor, but ‘g’ is the idea of this overall intelligence.”

From here, the story provided a bit of history about Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, tests.

Author Laurie Budgar quoted an expert from MENSA International, which is an organization created by and for those individuals who score in the top 2 percent of all administered IQ tests. (Essentially, it’s a high-IQ society.)

The story also explained that when IQ tests were first developed in 1912, the IQ score was meant to reflect the ratio (or quotient) of a person’s “mental age” divided by their chronological age and then multiplied by 100. To provide an example of how this might work, a person whose chronological age was 10 and who also tested at a mental age of 10 would have an intelligence quotient of 100.

But IQ is about much more than intelligence. DeLuca, who is based in New Jersey, went so far as to say that, contrary to popular belief, IQ tests actually do not determine how smart you are.

“An IQ test will tell you if you have some level of overall intellectual ability,” DeLuca said. “Does it mean you have common sense? No. It means you have an ability to process information at a high level. It doesn’t mean you’re smart in everything you do. Einstein [may have] had a high IQ, but it doesn’t mean he was able to, for example, make good decisions about his financial life.”

The article also provided information about how traditional IQ tests are scored—on a bell curve, with that same score of 100 reflecting average intelligence.

DeLuca was the source who explained how IQ takes age into account. He said it’s normal for certain aspects of intelligence to change over time, and noted that cognitive processing speed at age 20 is likely to be a lot faster than it will be at age 50.

He also took the opportunity to discuss the intersection of intelligence and neuropsychology.

Specifically, in reference to the concept of cognitive reserve, DeLuca told the author: “People with a lifetime of highly intellectual stimulation will create a brain that’s more resistant to disease—not necessarily resistant to getting the disease or progressing in that disease, but resistant to the outcome of it. A person may be less likely to become demented even if they develop Alzheimer’s.”

To see if you can pass the world’s shortest IQ test, click here. For more on DeLuca’s work at the Kessler Foundation, click here.