Brain Structure/Intelligence

Alan J. Robinson robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Thu Dec 7 07:41:55 EST 1995


On 5 Dec 1995 23:55:12 GMT, 
sallas bill joe  <sallas at ux4.cso.uiuc.edu > wrote:

>Hi,
>        I am an education major who has gotten out of his leauge in a 
>paper I am writing.  In the paper I am trying to prove that the structure 
>of the brain supports the multiple intelligence theory, rather than 
>Spearman's g.  When I say brain structure, I am talking about 
>modularity; the fact that the brain is made up of sub-systems and is not 
>just a single thinking unit.  I have read articles by Ira Black (Cracking 
>the Brain case) and Gould (Mozart and Modularity) as well as stuff by 
>Gazzaniga.  Basicly my theory is that because the brain is made up of 
>these nueral networks, it makes sense that people will have different 
>abilities in different areas.  Like I said, I am an education major so if 
>my logic seems to be flawed, please correct me.  Any comments would be 
>welcomed.

Sallas:

The multiple intelligence theory has to do with separate biological 
(and presumably genetic) influences on differing intellectual 
capabilities such as verbal and mathematical - it isn't the same as 
the localization of the capabilities in different brain anatomical 
structures.  (There isn't a one to one correspondence between gene 
expression and brain function and anatomy.)  This is going to be much 
easier to determine once it is possible to more accurately find out 
what these genetic influences might be, using the techniques of 
molecular biology.  Crick has something to say about all psychology 
becoming "molecular psychology" at the end of his book "What Mad 
Pursuit".

Factor analysis has been a favorite exploratory data analysis 
tool in the behavioral and social sciences ever since it was 
invented by Spearmann (and made much more popular by fast computers).  
However, it tends to be atheoretical, and the factor structure of 
intelligence has proved very troublesome.  (In the behavioral 
and social sciences most variables tend to be strongly correlated 
with one another, making certain forms of statistical analysis 
questionable and unduly influenced by noise in the data.)

Despite several valiant efforts, I think that most people have given 
up on this line of research, especially considering its contentious 
political implications.  (The social stratification by intelligence 
lamented in "The Bell Curve" is nothing new - it has been a fact of 
life for thousands of years, but there is reason to believe that the 
problem has already gotten considerably worse since the end of the 
Second World War.  (Not fully discussed in the book, by the way.  No 
flames, please!)

AJR




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