IQ Is Not Fixed in the Teenage Brain

A new study confirms what parents have long suspected: Adolescence can do a number on kids’ brains. Researchers have found that IQ can rise or fall during the teen years and that the brain’s structure reflects this uptick or decline.

Scientists tested 33 teenagers—19 boys and 14 girls—in 2004, when they were 12 to 16 years old, and again in 2008, when they were 15 to 20 years old. The test results revealed dramatic changes: between their first testing and their second, the teens’ verbal and nonverbal IQ scores rose or fell by as many as 20 points (on a scale for which the average is 100). Some teens improved or declined in just their verbal or nonverbal skills or improved in one area and declined in the other.

The result offers the first direct evidence that intelligence can change after early childhood and provides new hope for boosting the brain’s abilities. Learn more here.

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