Brain Scans And Career Plans

Richard Haier

Richard Haier, a neurologist from the University of California in Irvine, has for some time been researching the interaction between the volume of brain matter in a particular location with a person’s level of ability associated with that brain region. Most recently his research has suggested that brain scans may tell us about specific strengths and weaknesses:

“A person’s score in tests of analytical reasoning, memory and spatial and numerical abilities is indeed related to the amount of grey matter in different areas of their brain,” Haier said in an interview with the NewScientist, “Our work is at a very early stage, but we are hopeful that one day knowing something about a person’s brain may be helpful for providing guidance on vocational choice.”

Haier is quick to acknowledge that a brain scan gives a snapshot picture of cognitive strengths and that exercising a particular skill or function can increase the volume of nerve cells in a particular area of the brain:

“The brain is plastic and it does adapt, so there is a constant interaction between what you are doing and how your brain structure develops… This may well have implications for education and possibly even vocational choice in the future.”

(Back in 2004, Haier and his team published groundbreaking research showing that general intelligence wasn’t located in a particular brain region but to the specific volume of nerve cells in a variety of specific brain regions, each one contributing a certain skill or type of intelligence.)

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