Intelligence Tests (and Other Brain Tests) and What They Taught Me
For me, one of the most significant epiphany moments in my brain improvement journey was when I got my intelligence tested.
For decades I knew I was smart – but some everyday tasks took me so long to do. It just didn’t make sense.
Intelligence testing made this much clearer. I found out I had a pretty high IQ, but as my doctor colorfully put it, I was “a f**king snail!” But equally importantly, it showed me where more of my strengths are – in verbal ability, for example, which helped change the course of my career.
Here are a few tests I’ve taken that gave me more in-depth insights into my brain. This is by no means a thorough list on the types of tests out there, the insights to be gleaned from them or the strengths and weaknesses of each. But knowing about these should at least give you a sense of the different aspects of your brain that you can learn about through testing.
The WAIS Intelligence Scale
The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale is a detailed intelligence assessment which can give you separate info about your verbal ability, working memory, visual functioning, and processing speed.
These helped me understand a wealth of information about my own brain. For example, it showed me how strong my verbal ability was in proportion to my very slow speed at memorizing new things. This information has led me to find ways to rely on my strengths more (e.g., focusing on my writing a lot more), and finding more precise accommodations for my weaknesses (learning methods and software that help work around my slow memorization, for example).
Bruininks-Oseretsky (BOT-2) Tests
These go into depth about visual and auditory skills – like visual motor ability, visual discrimination, auditory discrimination and so on. I did these before and after 9 months of Integrated Listening Systems training (read the ILS training story here), and saw large, measurable results.
Without the before and after tests, I wouldn’t have had as much objective info on whether (and how) the ILS was helping me. I observed improvements in myself, but this gave me not only validation (that the changes I were experiencing weren’t imagined), but also specific data on the types of improvements and how large they were.
Primitive Reflex Testing
Primitive reflexes are reflexes we’re all born with. They have purposes while we’re infants, but they’re supposed to disappear early on – most of them, while we’re under 6 months of age.
If they don’t disappear properly, these can be the source of some bodily sensitivities that in turn affect attention, reading ability, anxiety and more.
These made me very aware that I have an unintegrated Moro Reflex (the “startle” reflex) which causes unnecessary jumpiness, sensitivity to sounds, and defensiveness. Knowing that gave me a better understanding of where my sound sensitivity comes from, and exercises I can do to desensitize it.
Continuous Performance Tests
These test your sustained attention and help measure things like impulsivity and inattention. This is, as far as I know, the closest thing that exists to having a diagnostic test for ADHD.
If you want to hear the story of my initial diagnosis, you can read up here:
Mind Over Matter: How I Overcame My Learning Disability to Build a Successful Tech Career
Also here’s another article I wrote about the benefits of intelligence testing:
Sold yet? 😃 Have you done any tests like these? What were the results?
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Hi Mike Cavaliere,
I read your article about your struggles with slow processing and ADHD and had some questions about what you did to improve your working memory and overall speed to complete tasks. My son, who, is 16 years old, has slow processing speed(diagnosed by an educational therapy center) and he is SOOOO slow at everything he does and I have turned over just about what seems like every stone, and I dont know what else to do. The center that hr was diagnosed at didnt have any suggestions to help him other than time accommodations which was nice but still very discouraging in that it doesn’t solve the problem we struggle with him every day and that he struggles with in completing homework and having any free time to pursue his interests. You mentioned using some software and doing some sort of function exercises. Could you tell me more about that and Im also interested in that evaluation you had for coordination and how that can be improved. I would love if you could call me as I have been on an endless quest to help him. Thank you!
Erica, glad to talk more. I removed your phone number from this comment since the comments on this site are public.
Feel free to reach out via the contact form on the site. But know that processing speed is something that takes time to improve, and it’s a lot of trial and error.
A few things that were helpful for me in regards to processing speed were:
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