Pupil size surprisingly linked to differences in intelligence

What can you tell by looking into someone’s eyes? You can spot a glint of humor, signs of tiredness, or maybe that they don’t like something or someone. 

But outside of assessing an emotional state, a person’s eyes may also provide clues about their intelligence, suggests new research. A study carried out at the Georgia Institute of Technology shows that pupil size is “closely related” to differences in intelligence between individuals. 

The scientists found that larger pupils may be connected to higher intelligence, as demonstrated by tests that gauged reasoning skills, memory, and attention. In fact, the researchers claim that the relationship of intelligence to pupil size is so pronounced, that it came across their previous two studies as well and can be spotted just with your naked eyes, without any additional scientific instruments. You should be able to tell who scored the highest or the lowest on the cognitive tests just by looking at them, say the researchers.

The pupil-IQ link

The connection was first noticed across memory tasks, looking at pupil dilations as signs of mental effort. The studies involved more than 500 people aged 18 to 35 from the Atlanta area. The subjects’ pupil sizes were measured by eye trackers, which use a camera and a computer to capture light reflecting off the pupil and cornea. As the scientists explained in Scientific American, pupil diameters range from two to eight millimeters. To determine average pupil size, they took measurements of the pupils at rest when the participants were staring at a blank screen for a few minutes.

Another part of the experiment involved having the subjects take a series of cognitive tests that evaluated “fluid intelligence” (the ability to reason when confronted with new problems), “working memory capacity” (how well people could remember information over time), and “attention control” (the ability to keep focusing attention even while being distracted). An example of the latter involves a test that attempts to divert a person’s focus on a disappearing letter by showing a flickering asterisk on another part of the screen. If a person pays too much attention to the asterisk, they might miss the letter. 

The conclusions of the research were that having a larger baseline pupil size was related to greater fluid intelligence, having more attention control, and even greater working memory capacity, although to a smaller extent. In an email exchange with Big Think, author Jason Tsukahara pointed out, “It is important to consider that what we find is a correlation — which should not be confused with causation.”

The researchers also found that pupil size seemed to decrease with age. Older people had more constricted pupils but when the scientists standardized for age, the pupil-size-to-intelligence connection still remained.

Why are pupils linked to intelligence?

The connection between pupil size and IQ likely resides within the brain. Pupil size has been previously connected to the locus coeruleus, a part of the brain that’s responsible for synthesizing the hormone and neurotransmitter norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which mobilizes the brain and body for action. Activity in the locus coeruleus affects our perception, attention, memory, and learning processes.

As the authors explain, this region of the brain “also helps maintain a healthy organization of brain activity so that distant brain regions can work together to accomplish challenging tasks and goals.” Because it is so important, loss of function in the locus coeruleus has been linked to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, clinical depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The researchers hypothesize that people who have larger pupils while in a restful state, like staring at a blank computer screen, have “greater regulation of activity by the locus coeruleus.” This leads to better cognitive performance. More research is necessary, however, to truly understand why having larger pupils is related to higher intelligence. 

In an email to Big Think, Tsukahara shared, “If I had to speculate, I would say that it is people with greater fluid intelligence that develop larger pupils, but again at this point we only have correlational data.”

Do other scientists believe this?

As the scientists point out in the beginning of their paper, their conclusions are controversial and, so far, other researchers haven’t been able to duplicate their results. The research team addresses this criticism by explaining that other studies had methodological issues and examined only memory capacity but not fluid intelligence, which is what they measured.

Link Original: https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/pupil-size-intelligence

El cambio de atención de lo esperado a lo inesperado es una técnica que tiene algún valor; y hace uso, en círculos Sufis, de convenciones que son transgredidas para señalar suposiciones acerca de cómo terminará un cuento y así posibilitarle a uno contemplar, por unos segundos, posibilidades peculiares:
Una vez, cierto ser humano encontró lo que se dio cuenta que era un anillo mágico.
Se lo puso en su dedo y con la fórmula usual, dijo: “¡Anillo, haz tu trabajo!”

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Cambio de atención

Research shows that mindfulness changes the brain.


Research shows that mindfulness changes the brain. But knowing what mindfulness can do, and helping clients put it into practice often requires skill. That’s why we’ve carefully created this fully online short, focused course with the top experts in the world such as Tara Brach, PhD; Dan Siegel, MD; Jack Kornfield, PhD; and many more. And right now it’s 50% off. 12 CE credits are available at checkout. Take a look https://www.nicabm.com/program/a2-fb-mindfulness-6/…


O primeiro estudo da referência concluiu que a desidratação teve efeitos negativos no vigor, autoestima, memória de curto prazo e atenção. A reidratação, porém,atenuou esses efeitos. O segundo é o maior e mais abrangente estudo controlado a examinar como o estado de hidratação interfere no desempenho cognitivo. Inédito ao avaliar a questão em uma população com idade mais avançada, sendo os resultados negativos significativos para as mulheres. A atenção sustentada, velocidade de processamento, memória de trabalho e motricidade foram examinadas. Os cientistas responsáveis pela pesquisa evidenciaram também que a hiperidratação, particularmente se resultar em hiponatremia, pode ser tão preocupante para a função cognitiva como a desidratação. 🧠💦🗯 Esse e outros temaa relcaionados serão abordados no módulo Saúde & Alta Performance Cerebral da @mybrainuniversity

A desidratação afeta a motrocidade

The ability to regulate your attention may help protect against anxiety symptoms

Greater mindfulness skills was found to indirectly predict fewer anxiety symptoms through attentional control, according to a study published in Psychological Reports.

Mindfulness, overall, is defined as “the awareness that emerges through actively attending to the present moment without reaction or judgment.” Research on mindfulness has shown that it is comprised of five different components: (1) observing, which entails attending to one’s emotions, cognitive experiences, and sensations; (2) describing, which is the process of labeling what one is feeling or thinking; (3) acting with awareness, defined as being attentive to one’s experience in the moment; (4) nonjudging of inner experience, which involves refraining from evaluating one’s thoughts and feelings; and (5) nonreactivity to inner experience, defined as the ability to let thoughts and feelings pass without responding or elaborating.

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Mientras el ejercicio de baja intensidad acciona las redes cerebrales



























Mientras el ejercicio de baja intensidad acciona las redes cerebrales asociadas al control cognitivo y al procesamiento de la atención, el ejercicio de alta intensidad activa principalmente las redes involucradas en el procesamiento emocional. Es la conclusión de un estudio reciente publicado en el periódico Brain Plasticity. Este puede ser el primer paso para una recomendación más precisa del ejercicio físico como factor de intervención sobre las funciones cerebrales.

Link Original: Referencia: Schmitt, A., Upadhyay, N., Martin, J. A., Rojas, S., Strüder, H. K., y Boecker, H. (2019). Modulación de diferentes redes cerebrales de descanso intrínsecos por el ejercicio agudo de diferentes intensidad. Plasticidad cerebral, 1-17. doi:10.3233/bpl-190081 (imagen adaptada de Crystal Eye Studio / Shutterstock)

“A atenção é um músculo mental, é preciso exercitá-lo”

Foi há mais de 20 anos que Daniel Goleman lançou um livro dedicado a um conceito revolucionário: a inteligência emocional. Atualmente corre o mundo para falar de educação, liderança e meditação – planetas que giram à volta das emoções.

Quando era mais novo, queria ser médico. Mas depois de um desamor com a Bioquímica, descobriu a sua verdadeira paixão: a Psicologia. Hoje, Daniel Goleman, de 72 anos, é considerado o “pai da inteligência emocional”, por ter sido um dos pioneiros a afirmar que a forma como reconhecemos e gerimos as emoções é tão importante como o QI. Com um bestseller internacional sobre o tema e mais de uma década de jornalismo de ciências comportamentais no New York Times no currículo, Goleman dá palestras pelo mundo sobre a importância da inteligência emocional nos negócios e na educação. Paralelamente, há décadas que pratica e estuda a meditação, tema do livro, Traços Alterados.

Acredita que as escolas devem trabalhar a literacia emocional, além das disciplinas de ensino regular. É possível que esta aprendizagem coexista com o sistema de avaliação atual, que põe a média acima de tudo?
As escolas de topo da América, que melhor preparam os alunos para a faculdade, compreendem a importância desta aprendizagem além da excelência académica. O que elas tentam fazer é dar uma educação completa. Querem que a criança se desenvolva emocional e socialmente, não querem que ela seja apenas boa a Matemática. Porque se és bom a matemática, mas não és boa pessoa, vais ser um desastre para qualquer empresa. E ninguém vai querer casar contigo. [Risos]

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Os nossos cérebros não analisam passivamente as informações sensoriais. Em vez disso, eles selecionam as informações mais importantes às custas daquelas momentaneamente irrelevantes. Esse processo ativo, denominado atenção seletiva, constitui um elo crítico entre o processamento sensorial e o conjunto cognitivo interno. Um dos dogmas fundamentais que sustentam as neurociências cognitivas é que a atenção é controlada por áreas corticais parietais e pré-frontais. O estudo da referência mostra que uma outra região no lobo temporal inferior exibe as propriedades de um mapa que codifica o foco da atenção. Através da ressonância magnética funcional de todo o cérebro, estimulação e registros eletrofisiológicos específicos, a nova pesquisa modifica nossa compreensão da organização das vias visuais e das funções das redes atencionais. 🧠📑