Brain scans may help guide career choice

Jul 21, 2010

General aptitude tests and specific mental ability tests are important tools for vocational guidance. Researchers are now asking whether performance on such tests is based on differences in brain structure, and if so, can brain scans be helpful in choosing a career?

In a first step, researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Research Notes have investigated how well eight tests used in vocational guidance correlate to in areas throughout the brain.

Richard Haier, from the University of California, USA, worked with a team of researchers to investigate the neurological basis for performance on each of the tests. He said, "Individual differences in provide information that is valuable for vocational guidance.

There is some debate, however, as to whether results on individual tests of specific abilities may be more helpful than results on tests of broader factors, like general intelligence. We compared brain networks identified using scores on broad cognitive ability tests to those identified by using specific cognitive tests to determine whether these relatively broad and narrow approaches yield similar results".

Using MRI, the researchers correlated gray matter with independent ability factors (general intelligence, speed of reasoning, numerical, spatial, memory) and with individual test scores from a battery of completed by 40 individuals seeking vocational guidance. They found that, in general, the grey matter correlates for the broad and narrow test types were different.

Speaking about the results Haier said, "A person's pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses is related to their , so there is a possibility that could provide unique information that would be helpful for vocational choice. Our current results form a basis to investigate this further."

Explore further: Researchers identify brain mechanism for motion detection in fruit flies

More information: Gray matter correlates of cognitive ability tests used for vocational guidance, Richard J Haier, David H Schroeder, Cheuk Tang, Kevin Head and Roberto Colom, BMC Research Notes (in press), www.biomedcentral.com/bmcresnotes/

Related Stories

Study: Testing one time is not enough

Jul 03, 2007

A U.S. study of cognitive tests suggests obtaining results from a short series of repeated tests might more precisely define mental function.

When it comes to intelligence, size matters

Mar 25, 2009

A collaborative study led by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University has demonstrated a positive link between cognitive ability and cortical thickness in the brains of healthy ...

Compulsive gamblers always down on their luck

Mar 26, 2008

Gambling addicts don't learn from their mistakes, according to a study published today in the open access journal Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health. The problem could be explained by a kind of mental rigidity ...

Recommended for you

Continuing the quest for better stroke therapies

14 hours ago

Helping people recover from the debilitating effects of a stroke is an immensely complex challenge that requires deep knowledge of neurophysiology as well as effective therapy. Advancing such knowledge to improve therapeutic ...

At last, hope for ALS patients?

17 hours ago

U of T researchers have found a missing link that helps to explain how ALS, one of the world's most feared diseases, paralyses and ultimately kills its victims. The breakthrough is helping them trace a path to a treatment ...

User comments : 0