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Top Story

Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching. That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these variations are not associated with individuals' general intelligence, or IQ. Researchers discovered that the ability to recognize one kind of creature was well predicted by how well subjects could recognize the other kind, although these objects were visually quite different. This confirmed the new test can predict the ability to learn new categories. Although the study confirms the popular intuition that visual skill is different from general intelligence, it found that individual variations in visual ability are much larger than most people think. For instance, on one metric, called the coefficient of variation, the spread of people was wider on the NOMT than on a nonverbal IQ test.

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