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Third AIMS International Conference on Management January 1-4,

2006

An Analytical Study on Assessing Human Competencies Based on Tests


Krishnamurthy Prabhakar, KSR College of Technology
Prabhakar.krishnamurthy@gmail.com

Testing Instruments are used to test Intelligence Quotient or personality tests to evaluate past-
acquired competencies or future success in education or employment. A close examination and study of
human cognition based on biological and anthropological evidence such as plasticity of brain we may have
to include more universal set of competencies than ordinarily been considered such as verbal,
mathematical and logical competencies. This paper attempts to address issues relating to definition of
intelligence, its components and application of study for educational testing and selection process.

Key words: Plasticity of brain, Intelligence Quotient, tests, Multiple Intelligences, contextualization,
pluralization, distribution
1. Introduction
The educational and job opportunities in most of the countries in the world depend on one type of testing or
other. Admission to best educational institutions is based on tests and for entry-level jobs in the best
organizations is to achieve prized end states. They are supposed to test present competencies and work as
predictive tools for future performance. Do all these tests predict success of the candidate’s future
performance? Most important question is whether results of the tests translate into everyday performance.
The central question is whether mental competence is produced by special ability, applicable in many
settings, or whether competence is produced by specialized abilities. If that is the case how tests measure
these competencies. As a corollary, how tests measure individual competencies? If we examine different
cultures in different eras across time and space, we find some of the prized end-states such as hunter,
priests, kings, warriors, artists, writers, athletes and military strategists; one question occurs to us, how did
they acquire the status? Is it through testing or by other means? If we have to include human cognition in
contrast to psychometric approach, we may have to include a far wider and more universal set of
competencies than that has been considered.
Some of the questions that occur to us are,
1. What is Intelligence?
2. When did we start this methodology of testing?
3. Do we have a timeline for the intelligence testing tradition?
4. Do these tests test the potential of a human being to perform future tasks or tests what is already
known?
5. If the measure is defined, how are they measured?
6. Is it tests focused on the tool than on what it is supposed to measure?
7. What is the reliability, validity of these tests?
8. Is there any relevance of latest findings in brain and its functions, which provide us better
understanding of intelligence?
9. Do we have a global brain theory that is suitable to any culture?
This article is in no way try to provide right answers to these questions, as it is beyond the competence of
the author. Issues are addressed for better understanding of human intelligence and testing mechanism
adopted. If we observe the nature of these questions, depending on a single discipline may not lead us to
better understanding. We may in hindsight likely to brush aside these questions by saying that they are not
in the realm of human resources discipline and it is upto psychologists to provide answers. However,
research of Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon indicate that study of
intelligence or multiple intelligences help us to understand and explain learning, thinking, leadership,
innovation, ethics better from fundamental analysis of latest research in neurobiology and anthropology. We
will start with historical influences in the development of intelligence theory and testing.

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1.1understanding about intelligence


The general understanding is, it is a single general capacity that every human being possesses to a greater
or lesser extent. It can be measured by standardized verbal instruments, such as short answers, paper and
pencil tests. These tests depend largely on the linguistic, logical and mathematical competencies. However,
if we examine the end states that are appreciated and prized by various cultures as described, such as
musicians, artists, poets , we feel the strong need to include universal set of competencies with a possibility
of some of them not amenable to any type of measurement. Samuel Johnson, described a true genius as one
“whose mind of large general powers accidentally determined to particular directions”.
The definition gives raise to one dimension known as “large general powers”. The mind may have ability to
deal with different kinds of content; however, ability to deal with particular content need not necessarily
help him or her to excel in other content. We will examine the fundamentals during the course of
discussion.

Development of Intelligence Theory and Testing historical foundations


We will go through the following chart that helps us to trace the history of intelligence theory and testing.
This chart will be helpful and a discerning reader can visit the website and understand individual
contributions by working on the interactive map. However, for the purpose of discussion some of the
historical Foundations are discussed. The nature of the human intellect has fascinated scholars for centuries.
The investigators are caught between two styles of explanations. The reductionist and holistic. Is brain an
assembly of parts or coherent whole such as a general framework of connections that shape mental
patterns? The English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) about whom the diagram has no mention, is
worth noting here. He said that we are born as blank slate, and then are molded by our experiences. We
have to acquire habits of perception, networks of mental associations, and skills of self-awareness.

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. Modern foundation
Several prominent European schools of psychology have emerged during this particular period.
Some American psychologists worked at these schools and established psychology programs in the United
States. The study of intelligence gained popularity during this era, based on work of Wilhelm Wundt, James
McKeen Cattell, G. S. Hall, and Hermann Ebbinghaus.

Great Schools Influence


A number of theoretical and empirical investigations of intelligence increased during this particular period.
One of great achievement of this period was development of the Army Alpha and Beta testing program,
established under the direction of Robert Mearns Yerkes. This project gave rise to the first group
intelligence tests and provided training ground for many psychologists. The enthusiasm generated by the
formation of the Schools and the Army Alpha and Beta testing program laid the foundation for the work
done during this period.

Contemporary Explorations
The champions of two opposing views such as reductionist and holist continued. Holistic approach is
criticized as being unscientific. Reductionism is seen as proper science. However, latest techniques of
research and study where we can inject microscopic glass tubes into neurons have helped us to have better
understanding of brain and its functions. New statistical techniques and modern experimental designs
helped to make standardized testing of intelligence and achievement a way of life. Although one single
factor measure of intelligence theory to determine the competence of a person dominated, theories of
"multiple intelligences" began to appear in the work of Thurstone and Guilford. Current trends in
intelligence theory and research involve the formation of more complex multiple intelligence theories and a
de-emphasis on the use of standardized testing to measure intelligence. The emergence of reliable genetic
and neurological research methodologies is creating a new area of study in which environmental,
biological, and psychological aspects of intelligence are studied simultaneously.
Intelligence- earliest views

We will start our analysis from that of work by Joseph Gall. Joseph Gall has observed a relationship
between certain mental characteristics of his schoolmates and shapes of their heads. He developed
"cranioscopy", a method to divine the personality and development of mental and moral faculties based on
the external shape of the skull. Cranioscopy (cranium=skull, scopos=vision) was later renamed to
phrenology (phrenos=mind, logos=study). He could not provide scientific proof of his theory. Gall’s
phrenological theories and practices were accepted in England, where the ruling class used it to justify the
"inferiority" of colonial subjects. Therefore, more than the science of measurement of intelligence, it is
used as a social tool to let down a race or set of people. His followers identified thirty-seven mental and
moral faculties ten more than twenty-seven identified by him, whom they thought, were represented in the
exterior surface of the skull. These faculties were divided into several spheres: intellectual, perceptiveness,
mental energy, moral faculties, love, etc. Most of the faculties dealt with hard-to-define personality traits,
such as firmness, approbativeness, cautiousness, marvelousness, spirituality, veneration, amativeness. Etc.
Other phrenological traits have modern scientific counterparts that can be evaluated with proper
psychological tests, such as constructiveness, destructiveness, individuality, self-esteem, idealism,
affection, etc. However, his ideas gave raise to thinking that brain has fundamental role in influencing
various activities of an individual and led importance to reductionist view. The result of Gall's theory was a
kind of chart of the skull, which mapped the regions where the bumps and depressions related to the 37
faculties could be palpated, measured and diagnosed. This was an excellent device for practitioners for easy
understanding. However, his work has given raise to the relationship of brain with that of specific functions
of human being.

Contribution of Binet
Binet, originally a proponent of craniometry, began to doubt the method after conducting a number of his
own experiments on young schoolchildren with great variability in head size and conflicting results. The
differences among the higher and lower functioning students were negligible and failed to support the
phrenology of Gall. He decided to abandon this technique in favor of better methods of measurement.

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Binet administered reaction time experiments with his daughters, Madeleine and Alice. He was surprised to
find that, when the girls were paying attention to the stimuli, their reaction times paralled that of adults.
Since the supposed "undeveloped intellects" of these young children matched that of mature adults, Binet,
suggested that tests should taken into consideration of more complex functioning, such as language. That
would be more appropriate measures of intelligence. In 1904, Binet was commissioned by the French
government to develop a method to identify "subnormal" children that were in need of special education.
With the assistance of Theodore Simon (1873-1961), a young physician, Binet set out to develop a series of
tests for this purpose. In an effort to avoid confusing lack of intelligence, with a lack of formal schooling,
the tests avoided specific school-related skills. Over several years, the Binet-Simon-tests were refined for
different age groups and included measures on a number of subject areas, including attention, memory,
visual-motor tasks, and similarities between various items such as social judgment, and logical absurdities.
Age was used as a discriminator, since normal children typically learned certain skills at a younger age than
subnormal children did. This significant indictor marked the beginning of age of standardization in a
"scale" of intellectual ability. An actual score resulted from the scale by comparing "mental age" as scored
on the test to the child’s chronological age; if the mental age was lower than chronological age by 2 or
more years, it was suggested that the child was mentally "retarded" (a termed coined by Binet). Binet,
recognizing the reliance of a single score to apply meaning to a complex quality, cautioned against
misusing these tests to label children inappropriately as mentally deficient. He realized the importance of
individual motivation and culture for valid testing, and noted that intelligence is something that develops
over time, with variability across individuals. However, this most important observation regarding
limitations of the tests has not been given importance and over emphasis on testing and results of testing
continued.

Charles Spearman Two factor theory


Spearman with a strong statistical background, went about to estimate the intelligence of twenty-four
children in a village school. In the course of his study, he realized that any empirically observed correlation
between two variables would underestimate the "true" degree of relationship, to the extent that there is
inaccuracy or unreliability in the measurement of those two variables. Further, if the amount of unreliability
is precisely known, it is possible to "correct" the attenuated observed correlation according to a
mathematical formula. Using his correction formula, Spearman found "perfect" relationships and inferred
that "General Intelligence" or ‘g’ factor or one single ability was in fact something real, and not merely an
arbitrary mathematical abstraction. He discovered correlations were positive and hierarchal. These
discoveries lead Spearman to the development of a two-factor theory of intelligence.
According to the two-factor theory of intelligence, the performance of any intellectual act requires some
combination of ‘g’, which is available to the any individual to the same degree for all intellectual acts, and
of "specific factors" or "s" which are specific to that act and which varies in strength from one act to
another. If one knows how a person performs on one task that is highly saturated with ‘g’, one can safely
predict a similar level of performance for another highly ‘g’ saturated task. Prediction of performance on
tasks with high “s” factors is less accurate. Nevertheless, since ‘g’ pervades all tasks, prediction will be
significantly better than chance. Thus, the most important information to have about a person's intellectual
ability is an estimate of their ‘g’. In contrast to Binet, who believed that a single number could not
adequately represent intelligence, Spearman suggested that ‘g’was the most important feature of individual
intellect.

Contribution of LouisThrustone

Thurstone believed that an understanding and analysis of intelligence must begin with people and their
attempts to reach their goals. During his time, the stimuli-response approach based on behaviorist theories
had much importance and thought the theories consider human being as a responding machine to stimuli
and rejected behaviorist theory. He felt that an instinctual responses and lower levels of intelligence are
characterized by the tendency to act on impulses without reflection. Higher levels of intelligence provide
greater protection and increase the likelihood that individuals will eventually reach their goals by not
perusing less than optimal impulses at earlier stages in the process of attempting to reach a goal. His
definition of intelligence is, “the ability to inhibit instinctive responses while those responses are still in a
loosely organized form and to use abstraction to redefine the instinctive behavior in light of imagined
consequences”. In the area of intelligence, his theory was that, intelligence is made up of several primary

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mental abilities rather than a general and several specific factors. He was among the first to propose that
there are numerous ways in which a person can be intelligent. Turnstone’s Multiple-factors theory
identified seven primary mental abilities:
• Verbal Comprehension
• Word Fluency
• Number Facility
• Spatial Visualization
• Associative Memory
• Perceptual Speed
• Reasoning
Turnstone’s multiple factors theory has been used to construct intelligence tests that yield a profile of the
individual's performance on each of the ability tests, rather than general intelligence tests that yield a single
score .His contention was Spearman’s ‘g’ factor consists of seven sub factors that are given.
We have examined most important contributions and may like to midway summarize these views before
embarking on a study on biological and anthropological evidence. We will consider the scoring in tests as
psychometric view of intelligence and proceed with discussion. It is based on the premise that individual
differences in human cognition can be measured by performance on intelligence tests, and that intelligence
itself can therefore be defined by variations in test scores, across people. In summary, we may be tempted
to make a statement “intelligence is what the intelligence test measures." Let us consider an analogy.
Physical sciences, distinguish between a ‘conceptual variable’ and its ‘operational definition’. The
distinction between mass as a concept and scale readings as data, to be analyzed there is clear association
between the two and provide a relationship between conceptual variable and operational variable.
However, the relation between the data for and the concept of intelligence is not at all like the relation
between scale readings and mass, because in psychometrics the concept is inferred from the measuring
instrument, rather than concept determining the measuring technique.

Most intelligence tests do not measure just one dimension and are made up of a number of subtests, in
which people are asked to perform different tasks. The test score is supposed to measure the common
thread that runs through performance on multiple factors. For example, the widely used Wechsler Adult
Intelligence Scale (WAIS) contains multiple factors that evaluate a person's vocabulary, short-term
memory, arithmetical ability, general knowledge and other specific skills. The Scholastic Achievement Test
(SAT) and the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) are constructed in similar fashion.
This brings us to the question of how the different multiple scores are combined. The formal basis for test
combination is a statistical procedure called factor analysis. In factor analysis, we reduce the number of
factors to specific number of factors. These factors capture the maximum variability in the data. However,
the factor structure or naming of the factors is not suggested by factor analysis. However, we may loose
some of the dimensions or recombined in the process of factor analysis. This fact led Stephen Jay Gould
(1983) to argue that factor analysis is not an appropriate way of defining the variables underlying test
scores, because one solution is statistically good as another. However, there are statistical methods that
make it possible to compare the goodness fit for one factor-analytic solution to another. When these
methods are applied, investigators find a highly reliable first factor. The case for general intelligence, the
unitary IQ score, is not as irrelevant as we presume. However, there are alternative explanations for the
data, Based on that idea, that there are different types of intelligence, even when one restricts oneself to the
notion that intelligence is what the tests measure.
During the 1970s, the Swedish psychometrician Karl Jreskog developed a statistical technique for
evaluating the fit of a multivariate data to an arbitrary, a priori specified factor structure. This made it
possible to compare two proposals about the structure of intelligence to data, to see which theory best fit
the facts. The new methods are applied to a number of new data sets (notably Gustafsson 1984) and have
become standard in evaluating models of intelligence. Based on work of Raymond Cattell (1971) and John
Horn (1985) the human intellectual competence appears to divide along three dimensions. We refer to these
dimensions as fluid intelligence (Gf), crystallized intelligence (Gc), and visual-spatial reasoning (Gv). :
Fluid intelligence is the ability to develop techniques for solving problems that are new and unusual, from
the perspective of the problem solver.
Crystallized intelligence is the ability to bring previously acquired often culturally defined, problem-
solving methods to bear on the current problem. This definition implies both that the problem solver knows

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the methods and recognizes that they are relevant in the present situation. We should note the word culture
is used to define intelligence, which will lay foundation for definition of intelligence.
Visual-spatial reasoning is an ability to use visual images and visual relationships in problem solving

Crystallized- and fluid-intelligence measures are substantially correlated. For instance, Horn reported a
study in which Gf and Gc measures were extracted from an analysis of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence
Scale WAIS. The correlation between the factors was 0.61. Such findings reinforced one single measure of
to argue that Gf and Gc are simply different flavors of a general intelligence (IQ) factor. This argument
cannot be sustained by looking at correlations between tests. However, it can be attacked by stepping
outside correlation and looking at how Gf and Gc measures respond to manipulations that might change
mental competence. It turns out that they respond differently. If we consider the effect of aging, Measures
of Gf generally decrease from early adulthood onwards, whereas Gc measures remain constant or even
increase throughout most of the working years (Horn 1985; Horn and Noll 1994). This in tune with our
intuitive understanding of the reality, indicates that experience, has an effect on intelligence. On the other
hand, middle-aged and older people do take longer than younger people to understand new problem-solving
methods and to deal with unfamiliar tasks. Age is the variable that can be shown to have different
influences on fluid and crystallized intelligence. However latest discoveries show plasticity of brain
provides us different dimension of thinking which we will discuss later. Since variables such as age, which
is not itself a cognitive operation, have different influences on different types of tests, it follows that there
cannot be just one ability underlying test performance. This argument moves away from the psychometric
tradition, which focuses only on test scores and towards the cognitive-psychology approach to intelligence.

The Cognitive-Psychology View

Cognitive psychologists think of “thinking” as the process of creating a mental representation of the current
problem, retrieving information that appears relevant and manipulating the representation in order to obtain
an answer. The problem, its solution and some of the methods used to solve it are then stored for later
reference. The most important point in this process is creating the representation. The assumption of
temporary working memory capability, which requires attention and is often a bottleneck in thought. When
familiar problems are encountered the process of building an appropriate representation become more
efficient, because previously acquired information and problem-solving techniques can be used. This
reduces the demand on working memory.

The cognitive-psychology view is that cognition is a process, whereas the psychometric view makes it a
collection of abilities. Perhaps it is more dynamic, and the cognitive-psychology view is seen as more
appealing than the psychometric view but it has the disadvantage of not lending itself to easy
summarization. When cognitive psychologists try to characterize a person's thinking, they are not likely to
use numbers to place the person in a "mental space" defined by factors derived from IQ testing. Instead,

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analogies to computing systems are used. The analogy is between computing power, programs and data
access, and the cognitive functions of being able to process ideas quickly and accurately, knowing how to
solve certain classes of problems, and having access to the knowledge needed to solve particular problems.
In psychological terms, human number crunching is a physiological capacity, whereas knowing how to
solve problems and knowing key facts are both products of learning process. Each of these aspects of
thought is legitimate parts of intelligence. The physiological capacities are clearly part of Gf, knowing a
key fact is part of Gc, and having acquired certain problem-solving strategies consists of both Gc and Gf. A
person's capabilities are determined by the interaction between powers, knowledge of how to use that
power and access to required data. The cognitive-psychology account complements the psychometric
distinction between fluid and crystallized intelligence. Both accounts stress how a new person’s ability to
performance depends on the ability to develop new problem representations (Cattell and Horn's fluid
intelligence) and how with experience one shifts from problem representation to pattern recognition, by
applying past solutions to present problems. Since developing a representation is more demanding of
working memory and attention than pattern recognition is, learning to do an intellectual task, generally is
harder than doing it. The theory also implies that people who do well on tests of fluid intelligence should
have a large working-memory capacity. (Carpenter, Just and Shell 1990).

When cognition is put into this prism, it is not surprising that IQ tests, and especially fluid-intelligence
tests, are associated with academic performance for students and for new employees who join
organizations. Data from the military (Wigdor and Green 1991) have shown that performance on the
Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which is used to screen military recruits, has a strong relation
with performance on the job in the first few months. After two years, the relation is reduced, but not
negligible. Similarly, the Department of Labor's General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) has been shown to
be less valid for older than for younger workers. This is consistent with laboratory studies and theoretical
analyses in cognitive psychology, all of which show that the experience reduces but does not eliminate the
relation between general intelligence and performance (Ackerman 1987). Intelligence Quotient does not
predict all aspects of job performance. In an extensive study of enlisted personnel (Campbell, McHenry and
Wise 1990), the US Army found that it was useful to distinguish between what might be called ability
aspects of performance, which includes such things as knowledge of one's job requirements and the ability
to operate machinery required in the job, and motivational aspects, which include cooperating with
colleagues, showing initiative and leadership. The ASVAB tool was helpful in predicting the ability aspects
but been not related to the motivational aspects.

In summary, it appears that IQ is an important factor in getting into a job or profession, but is less important
(although not negligible) once the job is learned. Further improvement is then achieved by acquiring
experience, rather than improving upon an abstract knowledge of what the job requires.

Pluralization and Hierarchization

Raymond Cattell (1971) and Philip Vernon (1971) ideas can be summarized as intelligence factors such as
verbal or numerical have a hierarchical relationships, as presiding over specific components. However,
Thurstone resist the idea of hierarchy of factors, and claim that each one of the factors should be considered
as equivalent numbers of a hetararchical structure. Therefore, the facts are plural but within the plurality,
there is hierarchization.

Contextualization

If we contemplate taking sample of human beings in different times such as during tenth century, sixteenth
century, nineteenth century and twenty first century, is it possible for us to assume that the intelligence of
the sample be the same? Is it possible to assume intelligence independent of the culture in which one
happen to live? Many scietists especially Howard Gardner (1983) Robert Sternberg (1985) see the
interaction between opportunities and constraints and that of an individual has an effect on the intelligence.
Vygotsky (1978) and some other researchers investigate differences among cultures and their practices,

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rather than differences among individuals. Therefore, the context assumes importance in the process of
nurturing of intelligence.

Distribution

Distribution may be viewed as an extended view of context. Its primary focus is non relation of the person
to the things such as tools ( in the case of teachers paper, pencil, computer, notional memory contained in
the files, notebooks, journals, network of associates such as colleagues, experts and others. Therefore to
assume that intelligence is just with in a person may not be a good argument. If we consider the expression
of intelligence in spatial manner in different avocations such as chess, geometry etc. we need to take into
consideration the opportunities offered in the form of tools have great impact on the intelligence of a
person.

With this basic understanding, we will proceed to understand the definition of intelligence as given by
Howard Gardner. However, we will go through some important dimensions relating to brain and its
functions, so that our comprehension of intelligence will be enhanced.

3. Brain and Its functions

We have to study the fundamental building block of intelligence in order to understand the premise of
Howard Gardner’s Theory of multiple intelligences. A brief fact about brain and its functioning is given
here to provide understanding of the brain the most complex part of the human body. The approximate
average weight brain is 1.4-Kilo grams it consists of 1/50th of body weight but consumes 1/5th of oxygen
supply. It contains one hundred billion neurons, which are individual brain cells.

Each of these neurons can make thousands of synaptic connections- a synapse is a junction between two
neurons. Approximately the brain has 1,000 trillion connections, each one of the connections is meaningful
having its own history of formation, purpose. Synaptic connections come in many forms, using different
messenger molecules to evoke different responses. The brain also contains glia cells- cells that can carryout
support, transport, growth and housekeeping jobs. There are 50 glia cells to every neuron. The neurons,
their connections, the support cells, the synaptic connections or wiring in lay terms is switched on with
traffic of thoughts, impressions, urges, conflicts, worries, curiosities and intentions.

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However, brain is not confined to the cranium or skull, it penetrates whole body. The brain itself extends to
the tail of the spinal cord. It consists of grey matter with complicated meshes of neurons, not simply a tract
of nerve fibers. From spinal cord, a maze of nerves reaches every corner of the body. How the various
functions are managed? The nervous systems do not act directly. It controls by secreting hormone
messengers that will diffuse through the blood and body tissues. No organ or individual cell is beyond its
reach. Thus, “brain activity” is not confined to head alone. The whole body is in harmony with
“knowingness”, which psychologists call as “cognition”. It is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the
senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behavior. It is the source of all the qualities that define
our humanity.

The Architecture of the Brain


The brain is like a team of experts working together but each part has its own special properties. From the
point of view of development and how the brain forms within the embryo, the brain can be subdivided into
three parts. They are prosencephalon or forebrain, the mesencephalon or midbrain, and the
rhombencephalon or hindbrain. The forebrain consists of the diencephalon, which includes structures such
as the thalamus and hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a center for hormonal control as well as an integral
part of the limbic system, which governs various emotional states. The hypothalamus is a center for
hormonal control as well as an integral part of the limbic system, which governs various emotional states.

The hindbrain includes the upper part of the spinal cord, the brain stem, and a wrinkled ball of tissue called
the cerebellum. The hindbrain controls the body’s vital functions such as respiration and heart rate. The
cerebellum coordinates movement and is involved in learned rote movements. The uppermost part of the
brainstem is the midbrain, which controls some reflex actions and is part of the circuit involved in the
control of eye movements and other voluntary movements. The forebrain is the largest and most highly
developed part of the human brain: it consists primarily of the cerebrum and the structures hidden beneath
it. The cerebrum is split into two halves (hemispheres) by a deep fissure. The two cerebral hemispheres
communicate with each other through a thick tract of nerve fibers that lies at the base of this fissure.
Although the two hemispheres seem to be mirror images of each other, they are different. For instance, the
ability to form words seems to lie primarily in the left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere seems to
control many abstract reasoning skills. All of the signals from the brain to the body and vice-versa cross
over on their way to and from the brain. This means that the right cerebral hemisphere primarily controls
the left side of the body and the left hemisphere primarily controls the right side. When one side of the

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brain is damaged, the opposite side of the body is affected. For example, a stroke in the right hemisphere
can the brain can leave the left arm and leg paralyzed.

For understanding brain evolution over thousands of years, we can divide them in to three parts. We call it
as triune brain.
Neocortex - Thought (including planning, language, logic & will, awareness)
Limbic System - Emotion (feelings, relationship/nurturing, images and dreams, play)
Reptilian Brain - Instinct (survival, breathing/swallowing/heartbeat, startle response)

Reptilian Brain
The stem part of the brain is the most ancient one - it evolved over 500 million years ago and is more like
the entire brain of present-day reptiles. For this reason, it is often called the reptilian brain. Various clumps
of cells in the brain stem determine the brain's general level of alertness and regulate the vegetative
processes of the body such as breathing and heartbeat. The brain stem is the reptilian brain. It is a remnant
of our prehistoric past. The reptilian brain acts on stimulus and response. It is useful for quick decisions
without thinking. The reptilian brain focuses on survival, and takes over when danger is perceived and do
not have time to think. In a world of survival of the fittest, the reptilian brain is concerned with getting
food. The reptilian brain is fear driven, and takes over when threatened or endangered.

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The Ancient Limbic System

The modules that lie beneath the corpus callosum are known as the limbic system. This area is older then
the cortex in evolutionary terms and is known as the mammalian brain because it is thought to have first
emerged in mammals. This part of the brain, and even that below it, is unconscious, and yet has a profound
affect on our experience because it is densely connected to the conscious cortex above it and constantly
feeds information upwards. The limbic stem is the root of emotions and feelings. It affects moods and
bodily functions. Emotions, our most basic reactions, are generated in the Limbic system along with the
many appetites and urges that help us behave in such a way to survive. For instance, the Amygdala is the
place where fear is registered and generated.
Neo Cortex
Neo cortex is the new brain. It is the most evolutionary advanced part of brain and evolved over the past
fifty thousand years. It governs ability to speak, think, plan, foresee and solve problems. The Neocortex
affects creativity and ability to learn. The neocortex makes up about 80 percent of the brain.

BRAIN LATERALIZATION
The term brain lateralization refers to the fact that the two halves of the human brain are not exactly alike.
Each hemisphere has functional specializations: some function whose neural mechanisms are localized
primarily in one-half of the brain. Most humans (70% to 95%) (Nevertheless, not all) have left
hemisphere specialization for language abilities. 5% to 30% have anomalous patterns of specialization.
These might include:
(a) Having a right-hemisphere language specialization or
(b) Having little lateralized specialization.
The upper (cerebral) left an analytical, mathematical, technical and problem solving.
The lower (limbic) left B controlled, conservative, planned, organized and administrative in nature.
The lower (limbic) right C interpersonal, emotional, musical, spiritual and the "talker" modes.
Upper (cerebral) right D imaginative, synthesizing, artistic, holistic and conceptual modes.
The twenty hours of sleep most infants require each day is a method of preserving metabolic energy for the
enormous task of brain development that is occurring at an incredible rate. In the first year alone, a child
will learn, among hundreds of other things, to vocalize and imitate speech sounds, to reach for and grasp
objects, and to turn toward sound. During this period, complex networks take shape in the brain, guiding
these functions to categorize and connect with the child's world. These milestones, by which we might
generally mark progress, are not only the key events of early development, but also the very building
blocks of skills to come, such as speaking, walking, catching a ball, or playing music. Inside the developing
child, a complicated series of interactions between body and world. Each step is dependent on the
succession of previous steps; genetic make-up and environment collide at every juncture, shaping and
stretching towards potential. The young brain creates synapses by the thousands, putting to use the hundred
billion nerve cells inherited at birth, and bringing to life the first awkward and unpracticed movements of
limbs and digits turning your gaze to the source of a sound requires a combination of information from
vision, audition, and somatosensation. Sensory maps of these systems are integrated in the superior
colliculus, a structure that calculates where the sound is in space and how far to move head to find the
sound source.

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It is important to keep in mind that growth and development, language and physical maturation,
intelligence and sense of self in the world, do not emerge in a vacuum, but rather arise in a complex,
interwoven, and unique interaction between the child and the environment. A child's development defies
simple textbook descriptions of isolated benchmarks -- children develop in the world, not on a growth
chart.
Neuroplasticity
It is the life long ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. In other
words, it is the ability of the brain to change with learning is what is known as neuroplasticity.
Twenty years ago, we thought that the structure of the brain develops during childhood and once that
organization in the brain has been developed that there is very little room for changes and for alterations.
Now we know that there is enormous capacity to undergo change due to plasticity of brain. In addition to
genetic factors, the brain is shaped by the characteristics of a person's environment and by the actions of
that, same person .Brain plasticity also indicates that it has the ability of the nervous system to adapt
to changed circumstances, to find new ways of learning, sometimes after an injury or a stroke, but more
commonly when we want to acquire a skill for, say, a hobby or even a new job. It involves many processes,
changes occurring throughout one’s life and all parts of the nervous system, neurons, glia and vascular
cells. Neuroplasticity do not consist of a single type of morphological change, but rather includes several
different processes that occur throughout an individual’s lifetime. The emphasis is on” changes in brain”
and, “lifetime process”. Many types of brain cells are involved in neuroplasticity, including neurons, glia,
and vascular ceils .It is of four different types as we know it today.
Developmental plasticity: when the immature brain first begins to process sensory information
Activity-dependent plasticity: when changes in the body, like a problem with eyesight, alter the balance of
sensory activity received by the brain
Plasticity of learning and memory: when we alter our behavior based on new sensory information
Injury-induced plasticity: following damage to the brain
While plasticity occurs over an individual’s lifetime, different types of plasticity dominate during certain
periods of one’s life and are less prevalent during other periods. While plasticity occurs over an individual’s
lifetime, different types of plasticity dominate during certain periods of one’s life and are less prevalent
during other periods. During normal brain development, the immature brain first begins to process sensory
information through adulthood (developmental plasticity and plasticity of learning and memory). Also are
developed as an adaptive mechanism to compensate for lost function and/or to maximize remaining
functions in the event of brain injury.
Processes involved in brain development
1. Neurogenesis is the formation of neurons in the brain
2. Neural migration is the movement of neurons to different areas of the brain
3. Myelination, the covering of the neuron's axon with a fatty sheath, allows neurons to conduct
signals more efficiently and protects the axon
4. Synaptogenesis is the formation of synapses, or connections between neurons
5. Synaptic Pruning is the selective elimination of synapses
Over the first few years of life, the brain grows rapidly. As each neuron matures, it sends out multiple
branches (axons, which send information out, and dendrites, which take in information), increasing the

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number of synaptic contacts and laying the specific connections from neuron to neuron. At birth, each
neuron in the cerebral cortex has approximately 2,500 synapses. By the time, an infant is two or three years
old, the number of synapses is approximately 15,000 synapses per neuron (Gopnick, et al., 1999). As we
age, old connections are deleted through a process called synaptic pruning.

ACTIVITY DETERMINED NEUROPLASTICITY


Synaptic pruning eliminates weaker synaptic contacts while stronger connections are kept and
strengthened. Experience determines, which connections will be strengthened and which will be pruned;
Connections that have been activated most frequently are preserved. Neurons must have a purpose to
survive. Without a purpose, neurons die through a process called apoptosis in which neurons that do not
receive or transmit information become damaged and die.

APOPTOSIS
Apoptosis is called “programmed cell death” .It takes place to avoid redundancy in the nervous system. For
the right cells to die/or less cells to die nurturing the child’s brain is necessary with adequate stimulation,
because neurons that have nothing to do will just literally kill themselves. Brain is a great downsizer or
rightsizer.

The illustration shows a neuron undergoing a common form of apoptosis.


(A) The healthy neuron has a defined cell membrane and the cytoplasm and nucleus, which
contains DNA, are intact.
(B) When apoptosis kicks in, the cell contorts and the DNA breaks up.
(C) In the final stage of apoptosis, the cell is broken into membrane-bound pieces and
specialized cells called macrophages or microglia remove the debris

Cortical Maps
The cortex contains maps. These maps represent our skills and our knowledge of the world. In addition, the
brain's mapmakers are kept very busy, indeed. When a skill develops or changes, the cortical maps also
change, and neuron populations may be annexed for specific purposes, later abandoned, and sometimes
annexed again.
The adult brain is driven by behavioral experience; we now know that the brain is plastic: it can remodel
itself, sometimes within a remarkably short period. These biological changes in the adult brain are not
driven by developmental timelines or inherited traits. Instead, they are driven by behavioral experience.
Just as the migratory behavior of residents can change the map of a city, so can our learning behavior
change the maps in our brain, causing neurons populations synchronize their actions, respond to new
inputs, and support new skills? Let us study some practical applications of the theory.
Practice makes perfect
When we approach learning seriously, however, something else happens: we attend to a task, we practice it
repeatedly, and we become emotionally involved. Under these conditions, brain plasticity happens - the
winemaker can sharpen her taste buds, the blind person can learn to read Braille, the musician can perfect
his pitch, and you can become an honest-to-goodness guitar player.
Selective attention
Attention, repetition, and intensive practice are the prerequisites of brain plasticity due to programmed cell
death of no regular usage. Should students listen to teachers, go to class every day, and do homework

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every day? Yes. In 1890, philosopher and psychologist William James wrote, “My experience is what I
agree to attend to”. Only those items which I notice shape my mind - without selective interest, experience
is an utter chaos."
Space and time
The crucial role played by the dimensions of space and time does not end with our behavioral experience.
Brain maps change spatially by taking over neighboring neuronal populations on different parts of the
cortex. However, brain maps can also change in time, by synchronizing the actions of neurons more tightly
so that a specific group of neurons may provide near-simultaneous responses to the same input.

Versatility
These timing relationships may actually support the plasticity of existing cortical maps and the generation
of new ones, because a single neuron can participate in the representation of several different sensory or
motor representations at different times. If we take a closer look at a single neuron and its synaptic
connections, we see that timing is everything. Suppose a neuron sends weak, sporadic chemical messages
to the neuron. It is a like to a situation bit like receiving postcards once every few years from a long-lost
acquaintance - the messages are not always effective enough to cause a sustained reaction in the second
neuron
Role of Enriched Environment

In the 1960's in Berkeley's biology labs, Mark Rosenzweig and his colleagues Edward Bennett, Marian
Diamond, and David Krech made a proposition -- that experience can induce concrete and observable
changes in brain structure – This would profoundly influence our understanding of education and the
human mind for decades afterwards. If negative early experiences could impair brain development, could
positive experiences enhance the brain? At Harvard, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel studied cats raised
blind in one eye, and by 1962, they had demonstrated that such deprivation caused profound structural
changes in the cats' visual cortex. This work made it clear that severe deprivation during critical
developmental periods could have catastrophic effects on a growing brain, but the question of whether the
opposite was true remained. The brain expects, and perhaps even depends upon, interaction with the
environment in order to develop and reach maturation. Babbling may assist in the development of language
capabilities, just as playing with objects assists in development of motor skills. Children who are exposed
to a rich and varied education early in life develop a great capacity for learning throughout life. Real
learning, not just rote exercise, can have a dramatic influence on the physical structure of the brain. The
extent of synaptic interconnectivity as we age determines our functional ability to use our brains. In spite of
losing neurons as we age, the density of interconnectivity makes up for the loss. This depends on
continuous new learning & environmental enrichment

Cerebral exercise
Rats rose in an "enriched" environment, with toys and social activities, were not only smarter than rats rose
in impoverished environments, but that the improvement in performance correlated with an increase in the
weight of the rats' cerebral cortex. The idea that the brain, like a muscle, might respond to "cerebral
exercise" with physical growth was surprising to many, and gave strength to an increasingly powerful
theory suggesting that all aspects of the mind - from memory, to dreams, to emotions - might have physical
correlates. Ineffective or weak connections are "pruned" in much the same way a gardener would prune a
tree or bush, giving the plant the desired shape. It is plasticity that enables the process of developing and
pruning connections, allowing the brain to adapt itself to its environment.

Plasticity of Learning and Memory

It was once believed that as we aged, the brain’s networks became fixed. In the past two decades, however,
an enormous amount of research has revealed that the brain never stops changing and adjusting. Learning,
as defined by Tortora and Grabowski (1996), is “the ability to acquire new knowledge or skills through
instruction or experience. Memory is the process by which that knowledge is retained over time.
Learning
The capacity of the brain to change with learning is plasticity. So how does the brain change with learning?
According to Durbach (2000), there appear to be at least two types of modifications that occur in the brain

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with learning: A change in the internal structure of the neurons, the most notable being in the area of
synapses. An increase in the number of synapses between neurons.

Myelination
There are millions of neurons, which form the electrical connections that lead to thinking. These cells send
their signals through axons, some of which can reach a length up to a meter in humans. Wrapped around
many of the axons are cells, which form myelin sheaths, composed mainly of fat. These sheaths serve to
insulate the axon, letting its signal travel about 100 times faster than in an unmyelinated axon.
Myelinization is the key and windows myelination is the major cause of the increase in a child's brain size.
At birth, the infant brain weighs 300-350 grams (2/3 to ¾ pound). In the first four years of life, the brain
increases to 80% of the adult weight of 1200-1500 grams (2.6 - 3.3 pounds).

The process of myelination


Few nerve centers are myelinated at birth. In the beginning, only reflexes are needed for survival, which is
completely myelinated. However, after birth the primary visual and auditory cortex neurons rapidly receive
their myelination. During the first year-and-a-half of life, the corticospinal motor tract receives its
myelination enabling gross control over arms, torso, and legs. Final myelination of the frontal lobes occurs
in early adolescence. An adolescent's brain reaches the weight of an adult brain by about the age fourteen
due to myelin accumulation and dendritic branching. At this time the potential for contribution to insight,
judgment, inhibition, reasoning, and social conscience are possible. The adolescent's frontal lobes are
increasingly active, and this ability enables the adolescent to consider several things in the mind while
comparing or inter relating them. The density of synapses declines during adolescence due to selective
pruning of redundant or unused connections. Synapse formation continues despite ongoing pruning.
The brain continuously remodels itself-even into adulthood. Synapses continue to be formed in select areas
of the brain but growth of new neurons is limited. Lifelong enrichment experiences are important.
Injury induced plasticity

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During brain repair following injury, plastic changes are geared towards maximizing function in spite of the
damaged brain. In studies involving rats in which one area of the brain was damaged, brain cells
surrounding the damaged area underwent changes in their function and shaped them to take on the indicate
that similar (though less effective) changes occur in human brains following injury.

Language Acquisition
Babies start to babble around six to ten months of age, and that not long afterward they say a few words
like "no" or "uh-oh.“At around two years, already more like children and less like babies, they begin
speaking grammatically correct sentences and their vocabulary undergoes a growth spurt. Moreover, by
three years, most children can speak in a manner that is essentially adult-like. Research has identified
certain areas of the adult brain that are typically responsible for specific aspects of language, that can serve
as starting points for understanding children's brains. The left hemisphere appears to be critical in most
right-handers and many left-handers. Lesions to the right hemisphere are not usually associated with
language loss, but there is evidence that the right hemisphere plays a role in emotion. The right hemisphere
has the potential to assume some language functions if the left hemisphere is damaged.
4. Modern Definition of Intelligence

We will try to understand the definition of intelligence as given by Howard Gardner in the light of
discussions. “an Intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within
one or more cultural settings”. The definition does not talk about sources of abilities or the means of
‘testing’ them. Based on the definition and borrowing evidence from biological science and anthropology
developed a set of criteria and identified nine different types of intelligences. We can discern from our
study that there are number of different intellectual strengths, or competencies, each of which has its own
developmental history. However, if we undertake the task of single, irrefutable definition of list of human
intelligences, we may not succeed, as it cannot be endorsed by all investigators under different
circumstances. The definition of intelligence has a prerequisite that “it must entail a set of skills of problem
solving-enabling the individual to resolve genuine problems or difficulties that he or she encounters and,
when appropriate, to create an effective product and must also entail the potential for finding or creating
problems-thereby laying foundation for acquisition of new knowledge”. The prerequisite and definition
read together we could discern that,
1) The definition is rooted in to the culture in which the competence is developed which takes care of
contextualization and distribution dimensions mentioned earlier.
2) Similarly creating effective product or posing new questions which leads to acquisition of new
knowledge will be one the most important dimensions of human competence.
The criteria of intelligence
1) Potential isolation by brain damage.
The extent to which a particular faculty can be destroyed or spared in isolation, as a result of brain damage,
is based on neuropshychology and experimental nature of evidence.
2) The existence of idiot savants, prodigies, and other exceptional individuals.
The competence should be able to explain uneven profile of abilities and deficits. In the case of a prodigy,
we find a person extremely competent in one domain. In the case of idiot savants, who have exceptional
competence in one domain and may be mediocre in other domains. This helps us to observe a set of
population and discern nature of competence.
3) Identifiable core operation or set of operations
There should be in existence of one or more basic information processing operation or mechanisms, which
can deal with specific kinds of input. The criteria focus on neural mechanism or computational system that
can be activated by internal and external presentation of information. It takes in to consideration the
cognitive dimension of competence. There should be a set of core operations that are separate for the
competence is one of the most important criteria.
4) A distinctive developmental history, along with a definable set of experts end state performances
Intelligence should have an identifiable developmental history through which a novice or an expert should
pass through. There should be identifiable milestones linked either to training or to physical maturation.
Susceptibility to modification and training will be of importance for educationalists.
5) An evolutionary history and evolutionary plausibility

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The roots of current intelligence can be traced back to millions of years in the history of species. A specific
intelligence becomes more plausible to the extent that one can locate its evolutionary antecedents that can
share with other organisms.
6) Support from experimental psychological tasks
By using methods of cognitive psychologists, we can study linguistic ability or spatial processing with
specificity. Some experimental tests can provide convincing support for the claim that particular abilities
are manifestations of the same intelligences.
7) Support from psychometric finding
The outcomes of standard tests such as IQ tests provide another clue. While tradition of intelligence tests
are not much supported in our discussion, it was never proposed to scrap them.
8) Susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system
The representation, communication and knowledge are takes place through symbol system. Language,
picturing, mathematics are some of the symbol systems that have become important for human knowledge
coding and survival. Therefore, the intelligence should be susceptible to encoding in symbol system.
When we observe the robustness of criteria, that encompasses various dimensions of human cognition and
its cultural context combined with agility, we can say that the theory provides most effective way to
understand human competence universally applicable in different cultures. Various intelligences identified
by Howard Gardner are,
Linguistic intelligence involves the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to
accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively use language to express
oneself rhetorically or poetically; and language as a means to remember information.
Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out
mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. It entails the ability to detect patterns, reason
deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical
thinking.
Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns.
It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve
problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements
Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more
confined areas.
Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and
desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others.
Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears and
motivations. It involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such
information to regulate our lives.
Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of
the environment. It 'combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that many
cultures value.
Though the list of intelligences proposed is not exhaustive, there is evidence for digital intelligence and
sexual intelligence as per recent article by Howard Gardner.

5. Conclusion

Schools in our country largely focus their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We
should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists,
architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the
world. Unfortunately, many children with these gifts do not receive attention or reinforcement either from
parents or from teachers in school. The present day IQ tests may label these children as “learning disabled,"
or underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning are not addressed by a heavily focused
linguistic or logical-mathematical classroom and reward orientation of our society. The theory of multiple
intelligences proposes a major transformation in the way that nurtures these competencies. It suggests that
teachers be trained to present their lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, cooperative learning, art

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activities, role-play, multimedia, field trips, and inner reflection. The theory of multiple intelligences also
has strong implications for adult learning and development. Many adults find themselves in jobs that do not
make use of their most highly developed intelligences (for example, the highly bodily-kinesthetic
individual who is stuck in a linguistic or logical desk-job when he or she would be much happier in a job
where they use themselves in such a way that they have fulfillment. The theory gives adults a whole new
way to look at their lives, examining potentials that they left behind in their childhood (such as proclivity
towards art or drama) but now have the opportunity to develop through courses, hobbies, or other
programs of self-development.

6. References
1) Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences. New York: BasicBooks.
2)Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books
3) Phrenology, the History of Brain Localization" By: Renate M.E. Sabatini, PhD In: Brain & Mind, March
1997
4) American Scientist online, The Role of Intelligence in Modern Society, by Earl Hunt. This article
originally appeared in the July-August 1995 issue of American Scientist.
5) Gardner, H. (1983) Frames of Mind, London; Fontana Press
6) http://www.newhorizons.org
7) www.EnchantedLearning.com
8) Multiple Intelligences after Twenty Years, Paper presented at the American Educational Research
Association, Chicago, Illinois, April 21, 2003.

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