Friday, November 21, 2008

Intelligent people live longer!

( Abstract from Nature Magazine – 13th Nov 2008; Italics are mine)

No kidding!. It is true – or as a wag would say “the thick die quick!”.

It has been proved that Intelligence can predict mortality more strongly that body mass index, total cholesterol, blood pressure or blood glucose, and at a similar level to smoking.
(Here Intelligence denotes scores from cognitive ability tests like IQ tests)

But the reasons for this are still mysterious.

At present there are four explanations:
1. Higher Intelligence normally results in a better education which would result in professional occupations that would place the person in a healthier environment
2. People with higher intelligence might engage in more healthy behaviors (I doubt it !!)
3. Early life tribulations (including prenatal) might be the cause of both high IQ as well as mortality (I cant see the link!)
4. High mental test scores in youth might be an indicator of a well put-together system

I think 1 and 4 are likely.

There is another argument that simple reaction speed (the time taken to press a button when a stimulus appears) may be even a better predictor of mortality risk. Reaction-time tasks do not require complex reasoning, and are so unlikely to be improved by education.

So there is some benefit for the hours we have spent on those computer games after all!

But jokes apart, the question is being seriously researched by many including he author of this article in Nature – Mr. Ian Deary who is the Director of the University of Edinburg Center for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, which opened on Sept 1, 2008. Let us wish him good luck!

1 comment:

Bipin said...

Hi Sam

Interesting piece. I agree with your observation about reasons 2 and 3. In fact, I tend to think that People with higher intelligence have a tendency to try and find "intelligent" justification for their behaviour that normally would be considered unhealthy!!