WEDNESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Parents, you may be onto something: A small new study suggests that teens' intelligence, as measured by the IQ test, may fluctuate throughout adolescence.
The changes -- in both verbal and nonverbal IQ -- ranged to as much as 20 points and were correlated with specific brain areas.
IQ has long been thought to remain stable over a person's lifetime.
The new findings might have implications for kids' educations, the researchers said, because they suggest that children, especially those with lower IQs, should not be pigeonholed into specific educational and career trajectories based on their IQ alone.
"Approximately one-fifth of our sample had very substantial changes such that they moved from above average to below average or vice versa," said Cathy Price, senior study author and professor at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, U.K.
The findings are published online Oct. 19 in the journal Nature.
According to the study authors, prior studies have shown changes in IQ in individuals over time, but those studies hadn't been able to rule out the possibility of chance.
In their research, Price and her colleagues measured the IQs of 33 individuals aged 12 to 16 in 2004. They performed MRI brain imaging of the adolescents' brains at the same time.
Four years later, the same group of individuals, now between 15 and 20 years old, were tested and underwent additional MRI scans.
The team report that changes in IQ did seem to occur, with some participants improving their scores by as much as 20 points over time, relative to people of similar age, while other kids saw declines in IQ levels.
"A change in 20 points is a huge difference," Price said in a statement to the media. For example, she said, "if an individual moved from an IQ of 110 to an IQ of 130 they m
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