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Research Suggests Visual Skills Are Different from IQ


Research at Vanderbilt University suggests that people differ significantly in their visual skills and showed that visual skills were not associated with IQ. The researchers concluded that:

  • People are not very good at assessing their own visual skills. This is similar to findings from other behavioral research on the overconfidence bias, which results in people thinking they are better at driving and other activities than they actually are.
  • Visual ability varies considerably among individuals, and, in this research, varied even more than performance on a non-verbal IQ test.
  • The new test developed by the researchers, called the Novel Object Memory Test, could evaluate an individual’s ability to learn to visually perceive new categories of objects, where traditional visual tests evaluate performance with familiar objects.

The research also suggests that people could be evaluated specifically on the type of visual skills needed for fingerprint-matching or air traffic control. The research did not determine whether individuals can develop their ability to perform better on novel object identification, although that may also be possible, given the basic precepts of neuroplasticity and the kinds of changes in visual processing that can be achieved in vision therapy and cognitive training.

Read about the Research


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