Letters to the editor

Not-so-smart perception
Researchers studying associations between IQ and selected visual tasks (“Less is more for smart perception,” SN: 6/29/13, p. 18) report that tracking small moving foreground objects, a task at which high-IQ subjects excelled, is often more important than detecting large-object motion or attending to background activity. They suggest that for driving or walking in busy areas, high-IQers have an advantage over people with lower IQs, who are better at monitoring large objects. I will have to take their word for it, but I can’t quite get out of my mind an image of all those geniuses, deftly swatting away mosquitoes and flies while being run over by trucks and trains whose approach in the background they didn’t notice.
Holly J. Massey, Livermore, Calif.

Intelligence is not memorized
Practice on memory tasks (“Memory training questioned,” SN: 6/15/13, p. 12) did not make people smarter on intelligence tests. Such studies are based on the theory that intelligence is some quality of the mind-brain that can be strengthened by mental practice. There is another concept of intelligence as composed of learned basic repertoires, such as language, that make possible learning other repertoires. A child with a good language repertoire will do better in school than a child with a less good repertoire. There is experimental evidence that supports this theory as well as naturalistic evidence such as the Flynn effect (the observation that since the 1930s, intelligence has generally increased).
Arthur W. Staats, via e-mail