Absent-Minded Kids Are Smarter: Study

For an absent-minded teacher like myself, this is very encouraging news. To think that we could be smarter, regardless of whether we know what day it is or recall what our passwords are, is surprising to say the least:

Is your child absent-minded? You should feel happy, for a new study says that it may well be a sign that the kid is intelligent. Researchers have found that children who have wandering minds actually have sharper brains — in fact, those who are constantly distracted are able to hold far more information than their diligent peers.

The study has shown that those who appear to be constantly distracted have more “working memory”, giving them the ability to do two things at the same time, the Daily Mail reported.

Those who appear to be constantly distracted have more “working memory”.

Participants in the study had to either press a button in response to the appearance of a certain letter on a screen, or tap in time with their breath. The researchers checked periodically to ask if their minds were wandering.

At the end, they measured the participants’ working memory capacity, giving them a score for their ability to remember a series of letters interspersed with easy maths questions.

Daniel Levinson of University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study, said those with higher working memory capacity reported “more mind wandering during these simple tasks” even though their performance was not compromised.

The results are the first to show the association with mind wandering and intelligence. It is thought the extra mental workspace is used, for instance, when adding up two spoken numbers without being able to write them down. Its capacity has been associated with general measures of intelligence, such as reading comprehension and IQ score.

I could sit here and show-off about these findings but I’m too busy trying to find my darn car keys …. again!

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6 Responses to “Absent-Minded Kids Are Smarter: Study”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    I often wonder whether psychological tests actually measure what the psychologists think they are measuring. In my experience most of the people I grew up with who ticked all the boxes for high IQ seem not to be as advanced in terms of career, relationships and general life skills as those who seemed to plod along through the system.

    Daniel Goleman quotes a study where young children were individually given a task to perform where the researcher left the room for a time. Each child was shown a saucer containing a lolly. The child was told that the researcher had to leave the room and that the lolly was for the child to eat whenever he/she wanted. The child was further told that if he/she had not eaten the sweet by the time the researcher came back he/she could have two sweets.

    Some children could not wait and ate the sweet immediately. The ones that waited were rewarded with 2 sweets.

    These children were followed up when they became adults. The ones who were able to forgo the sweet immediately were shown, on average, to be more successful in life, in terms of careers, income and relationships, than were those who preferred instant gratification.

    Personally I have come to the conclusion that much psychological research raises more questions, the answers to which have implications for the conclusions of the original research. We are going around in circles, forever seeking the truth, always skirting around it, and never finding it. I would like to think the circles are getting smaller, indicating that we are getting closer, but then something else is discovered that seems to turn everything on its head.

    Isaiah 40: 22,23 seems to me to have something to say on this matter.

  2. iGameMom Says:

    that probably can explain why gifted kids are always in trouble in school.

  3. John Tapscott Says:

    I won’t say I was gifted but I was always in trouble at school. To me it felt like everyone else was in on the joke but I didn’t get it. (I could be an “aspy”). Long after I left school I came to realise that nobody else got the joke either. They seemed more able to go along with it. The pieces began to fall into place when, at teachers college, we studied Piaget. As I began to read about stages of cognitive development from Piaget, Kohler and others the discipline of instructional design made a lot of sense. What I see now is that curriculum is not totally informed by pedagogy but to a large extent by politics. This is why I was dismayed when teaching in a high school and expected to follow a syllabus that most of the students in the school hadn’t the cognitive development in terms of understanding, prerequisite skills and knowledge to be able to digest many of the syllabus concepts. They vote with their feet or they vote with their behaviour.

  4. Michael G. Says:

    It cerianly does seem to indicate that many don’t fully understand or at least cater properly for different types of students. This is where attitude and behaviour issues come into play.

  5. makethea Says:

    Thank you for this post. I can prove that I don’t have ADD. :-) Even in my adult life, I am always distracted by something.

  6. makethea Says:

    Reblogged this on makethea and commented:
    Your proof that you child does not have ADHD!!

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