The Brain and Intelligence
Human intelligence is an elusive quality. We all think we know it when we see it but try to pin down that quality to a firm, testable definition and suddenly, even for the most experienced researchers, the concept disappears. But now a team of British and German scientists believe they have firmly nailed down at least part of the notion of intelligence. They claim to have found a location for intelligence, whatever it is, in the brain.
For many years researchers have believed that intelligence is a quality which is spread throughout the whole human brain. Traditional psychologists such as Benjamin Martin believe that this accounts for incidences where physical damage to the brain need not affect intelligence at all. By using advanced scanning equipment, however, researchers led by John Duncan of the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge now think that it is much more localised and at the front of the brain in particular.
Duncan and his team have attempted to link intelligence to the activity of nerve cells in the brain by giving subjects a series of problem solving tests. These tests are of the standard sort used to test and measure intelligence. They resemble puzzles where sequences of numbers or letters have to be rearranged or continued, or patterns of shapes have to be inverted. While subjects are carrying out these intelligence tasks, their heads are scanned to see where electrical activity and blood flow in the brain are concentrated. It turns out that activity was concentrated in the frontal cortex and so, Duncan and his team presume, intelligence is situated there too.
This new idea has not been met with universal acceptance, however. The usual definition of “intelligence” was set by Charles Spearman 100 years ago. This was the quality that allows some people to be very good at a whole variety of things – music, mathematics, practical problem solving and so on – while others are not. He called this quality general intelligence or the “g” factor for short. It was a contentious idea even at the time but still no-one has come up with a better definition. Nonetheless, because the notion of intelligence is imprecisely defined, the idea that there is a fixed location for intelligence has to be questioned.
The questioning comes in an article in the prestigious journal Science, the same edition as Duncan’s own article. Yale psychologist Robert Sternberg points out that many people who are clearly intelligent, such as leading politicians and lawyers, do very badly in intelligence tests. Conversely, one might argue, there are plenty of academics who are good at intelligence tests but who cannot even tie their own shoe laces! Sternberg implies that the idea that being a successful politician or lawyer does not require intelligence, flies in the face of reason. Rather more likely is the idea that so-called intelligence tests can have little to do with many practical manifestations of intelligence. The skills of verbal and mathematical analysis measured by these tests can tell us very little about the skills of social interaction and people handling which are equally essential for success and are, therefore, equally valid qualities of intelligence.
Sternberg makes a further criticism of the conclusions drawn by Duncan’s team. The mental-atlas approach really does not tell us anything about intelligence. The fact that we know a computer’s “intelligence” is produced by a computer chip and that we can say where this chip is, does not tell us anything about the computer’s intelligence or ability. We could easily move the location of the chip and this would not change the computer’s “intelligence”. As Benjamin Martin points out, this may be what happens in reality when following physical damage to one area of the brain, knowledge and ability appear able to relocate.
Classify the following statements as referring to
A John Duncan
B Charles Spearman
C Benjamin Martin
D Robert Sternberg
E The writer of the article
Example: Physical damage to the brain need not affect intelligence. Answer C
1 Intelligence can be located throughout the brain.
2 Intelligence makes you good at many different things.
3 Intelligence tests examine limited skills.
4 Intelligence is located at the front of the brain.
5 It is difficult to describe what intelligence is.
6 Intelligence tests can be bad at measuring the intellect of professionals.
7 Intelligence and other abilities can reposition following injury to the brain.
8 Intelligence is a characteristic required by those doing well in legal and political professions
Using information contained in the text, complete the following sentences using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
9 Spearman’s suggested that intelligence was the ability to be good at…………………………..
10 The idea that all politicians and lawyers are unintelligent is……………………….
11 Spearman’s ideas about intelligence are not…………………………
12 Sternberg suggests that in addition to academic ability, intelligence includes…………………..
13 Sternberg also believes that intelligence is not affected by where…………………………..
A New Menace from an Old Enemy
Malaria is the world’s second most common disease causing over 500 million infections and one million deaths every year. Worryingly it is one of those diseases which is beginning to increase as it develops resistance to treatments. Even in the UK, where malaria has been effectively eradicated, more than 2,000 people are infected as they return from trips abroad and the numbers are rising.
It seems as though malaria has been in existence for millions of years and a similar disease may have infected dinosaurs. Malaria-type fevers are recorded among the ancient Greeks by writers such as Herodotus who also records the first prophylactic measures: fishermen sleeping under their own nets. Treatments up until the nineteenth century were as varied as they were ineffective. Live spiders in butter, purging and bleeding, and sleeping with a copy of the Iliad under the patient’s head are all recorded. The use of the first genuinely effective remedy, an infusion from the bark of the cinchona tree, was recorded in 1636 but it was only in 1820 that quinine, the active ingredient from the cinchona bark was extracted and modern prevention became possible. For a long time the treatment was regarded with suspicion since it was associated with the Jesuits. Oliver Cromwell, the Protestant English leader who executed King Charles I, died of malaria as a result of his doctors refusing to administer a Catholic remedy! Despite the presence of quinine, malaria was still a major cause of illness and death throughout the nineteenth century. Hundreds of thousands were dying in southern Europe even at the beginning of the last century. Malaria was eradicated from Rome only in the 1930s when Mussolini drained the Pontine marshes.
Despite the fact that malaria has been around for so long, surprisingly little is known about how to cure or prevent it. Mosquitoes, who are the carriers of the disease, are attracted to heat, moisture, lactic acid and carbon dioxide but how they sort through this cocktail to repeatedly select one individual for attention over another is not understood. It is known that the malaria parasite, or plasmodium falciparum to give it its Latin name, has a life cycle which must pass through the anopheles mosquito and human hosts in order to live. It can only have attained its present form after mankind mastered agriculture and lived in groups for this to happen. With two such different hosts, the life cycle of the parasite is remarkable.
There is the sporozoite stage which lives in the mosquito. When a human is bitten by an infected anopheles mosquito the parasite is passed to the human through the mosquito’s saliva. As few as six such parasites may be enough to pass on the infection provided the human’s immune system fails to kill the parasites before they reach the liver. There they transform into merozoites and multiply hugely to, perhaps, about 60,000 after 10 days and then spread throughout the bloodstream. Within minutes of this occurring, they attack the red blood cells to feed on the iron-rich haemoglobin which is inside. This is when the patient begins to feel ill. Within hours they can eat as much as 125 grams of haemoglobin which causes anaemia, lethargy, vulnerability to infection, and oxygen deficiency to areas such as the brain. Oxygen is carried to all organs by haemoglobin in the blood. The lack of oxygen leads to the cells blocking capillaries in the brain and the effects are very much like that of a stroke with one important difference: the damage is reversible and patients can come out of a malarial coma with no brain damage. Merozoites now change into gametocytes which can be male or female and it is this phase, with random mixing of genes that results, that can lead to malaria developing resistance to treatments. These resistant gametocytes, can be passed back to the mosquito if the patient is bitten, and they turn into zygotes. These zygotes divide and produce sporozoites and the cycle can begin again.
The fight against malaria often seems to focus on the work of medical researchers who try to produce solutions such as vaccines. But funding is low because, it is said, malaria is a third world condition and scarcely troubles the rich, industrialised countries. It is true that malaria is, at root, a disease of poverty. The richer countries have managed to eradicate malaria by extending agriculture and so having proper drainage so mosquitoes cannot breed, and by living in solid houses with glass windows so the mosquitoes cannot bite the human host. Campaigns in Hunan province in China, making use of pesticide impregnated netting around beds reduced infection rates from over 1 million per year to around 65,000. But the search for medical cures goes on. Some 15 years ago there were high hopes for DNA based vaccines which worked well in trials on mice. Some still believe that this is where the answer lies and shortly too. Other researchers are not so confident and expect a wait of at least another 15 years before any significant development.
Do the following statements agree with the information in Reading Passage 2? In boxes 14 – 21 on your answer sheet write
YES if the statement agrees with the information
NO if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this in the passage.
14 Malaria started among the ancient Greeks.
15 Malaria has been eradicated in the wealthier parts of the world.
16 Mosquitoes are discerning in their choice of victims.
17 Treatments in the nineteenth century were ineffective
18 Iron is a form of nourishment for malarial merizoites.
19 A severe attack of malaria can be similar to a stroke.
20 Research into malaria is not considered a priority by the West.
21 Technological solutions are likely to be more effective than low-tech solutions.
A In 1789 began the celebrated French Revolution, an event which shook the old certainties of European states and European monarchies to the core. It also raised debate on the desired structure of the state throughout whole populations to an unprecedented degree. In October the following year, Edmund Burke brought out his Reflections on the Revolution in France which sold 35,000 copies within weeks, then a huge number. It reinforced all the fears and prejudices of the traditional aristocracy. Immediately, more progressive authors began writing their responses including the celebrated Thomas Paine whose ‘The Rights of Man’ sold an amazing two million copies.
B But Paine’s was not the first response. Less than a month after Burke’s book was published there appeared the anonymous A Vindication of the Rights of Men. It sold so well that a second edition appeared only three weeks after the first. However, in this edition the author was named as Mary Wollstonecraft. The involvement of women in politics was almost unknown at the time and there was outrage. Horace Walpole called her “a hyena in petticoats”.
C If she was intimidated by the outcry, it did not show. Only two years later, at the beginning of 1792, she produced another book with an even more inflammatory title: A Vindication of the Rights of Women. This has been a handbook for feminists ever since. Women tended to like her strong opinions while men were, not surprisingly, infuriated. What is surprising is that so many of the men who attacked this piece are usually thought of as politically advanced. Even William Godwin, for example, supported the idea that men and women were different and complementary and this required a political arrangement where men led and women followed. Wollstonecraft attacked this notion and demanded independence and equality for women.
D This rebellious streak led her in quite a different direction from most of her contemporaries. As bloodshed in Paris reached its peak during 1792 and 1793, and most British fled from France, Wollstonecraft moved to Paris to live. She stayed while most of her French friends were killed. Quite why is not clear since she clearly preferred the society of the bourgeois intellectuals who were dying to the street revolutionaries who were killing them. Perhaps it was only after this experience that she appreciated some of the practical pitfalls of unchecked liberty.
E The reality of revolution seemed to change her in a number of other ways. A feature of her Vindication was to urge both men and women to subjugate passion to reason. Before her experience in France she had remained single and, single-mindedly, celibate despite the temptation offered by the painter Fuseli. But whilst in France she threw herself into a passionate affair with the American adventurer Gilbert Imlay. She even followed Imlay to Scandinavia in search of stolen silver treasure; a triumph of passion over reason if ever there was one! How ironic that she should suffer this fate in the middle of, what she hoped would be, the foundation of a better, more rational, society.
F She never entirely lost her principles, however, and clung to the belief that a better world based on equality and reason was attainable. Eventually she returned to Britain and, after a failed suicide bid, she married the very William Godwin who had so criticised her before. She died in childbirth not long after and pronounced herself “content to be wretched” but refused to be a nothing and discounted.
G Mary Wollstonecraft’s life was revolutionary in many ways, even for her time. She may have been inconsistent and contradictory but this cannot diminish the effect she had on the political thoughts of her contemporaries. We cannot ignore too, the degree to which she has influenced later thought, even down to the present day. Her son-in-law, Percy Shelley, was a fervent admirer who immortalised her in verse in The Revolt of Islam. De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Greer’s The Female Eunuch both owe their origins to Wollstonecraft’s pioneering writing. The notions of equality we take for granted today first appeared in her work.
Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs A – C. Choose the most suitable headings for paragraphs A – G from the list of headings below.
i A tragic ending
ii A revolutionary life
iii Being different
iv Contradictory behavior
v The work of Thomas Paine
vi Reactions to revolution
vii A life in perspective
viii The first reaction to Burke
ix Asserting the rights of women
Example: Paragraph A Answer vi
28 Paragraph B
29 Paragraph C
30 Paragraph D
31 Paragraph E
32 Paragraph F
33 Paragraph G
Choose the appropriate answers A – D and write them in boxes 34 – 40 on your answer sheet.
34 The revolution in France
A frightened everybody
B prejudiced the aristocracy
C concerned everybody
D challenged the established order
35 Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Men
A was an immediate best seller
B sold only slowly at first
C hardly sold at all
D was only read by women
36 The response to A Vindication of the Rights of Men
A intimidated Mary
B made Mary flee to France
C attracted William Godwin
D made Mary write another book.
37 Men objected to the book because
A it was written by a woman
B it challenged established ideas about men and women
C she published before them
D the writer was a female politician
38 Mary’s personal life
A always matched her published beliefs
B sometimes contradicted her published beliefs
C never contradicted her published beliefs
D never matched her published beliefs.
39 In refusing to be discounted she meant
A women should be taught literacy and numeracy
B the role of women should not be reduced
C she was not to be overlooked for being a woman
D she was happy as she was
40 Mary Wollstonecraft’s writing
A was constant and contemporary
B inspired modern feminist writers
C took equality for granted
D was ignored