Superachievers have an incredible way of focusing on their goal and avoiding distractions.
But does that mean there’s a connection between IQ and a superhuman ability to stay focused?
Yes, according to researchers from the University of Rochester, who in a recent experiment asked 53 participants to watch short video clips of black and white bars, with the sole task of identifying whether the bars were pointing toward the left or right. The bars included in the videos were either large and take up the entire screen or smaller and only take up the centre of the screen.
The participants were also asked to take a standardized IQ test. The findings, published this month in the journal Biology, show that people with higher IQs had difficulty perceiving movement in larger images, but were quicker to notice movement in the smaller bars.
Why do researchers think that the inability to notice the larger bars might play a role in intelligence? The larger bars represent background distractions, which in real-life scenarios are less important than smaller objects moving directly in front of you. In other words, smart people can more easily filter out “background noise” to focus on a task directly in front of them, such as listening to a conversation versus watching people walk by.
Those who have the ability to ignore distracting sensory signals can concentrate better than those who can’t, because our brains “operate on overwhelming amounts of information, and thus their efficiency is fundamentally constrained by an ability to suppress irrelevant information,” according to the study.
Although the study closely links IQ with an ability to focus, the University of Rochester researchers also point out that this isn’t the only indicator of intelligence, because “you can’t really track it back to one part of the brain.” Either way, it does offer some “clues about what makes a brain more efficient, and, consequently, more intelligent.”
Below, you can watch the same video that the participants watched:
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