Optical illusions have long been used in neuroscience to point out perceptions into how the brain functions, and now a visual test can detect impaired abilities to see large motions in high-IQ people, according to a new study.

The finding, published in Current Biology reveals that people who have high IQ scores process sensory information differently.

The brains of people with high IQ were automatically more selective when they perceived objects in motion. More specifically, they are more likely to suppress larger and less important background motion.

Duje Tadin of the University of Rochester said:

“It is not that people with high IQ are simply better at visual perception. Instead, their visual perception is more discriminating. They excel at seeing small, moving objects but struggle in perceiving large, background-like motions.”

The study was composed of two series of tests on 67 people with an average IQ score of 100 (each participant took one of two forms of the IQ test), which is normal.

The participants watched a visual test where they were shown movies of circular grids, large and small, that look as if they are moving to the right or left. Volunteers were asked how many frames of the movie they needed to see to find the motion.

Results revealed that people with high IQ can detect the movement of small objects faster than low-IQ people can.

These results were expected, however, it was surprising to see that those with high IQs were slower to see what was already in front of them.

Tadin explains, “There is something about the brains of high-IQ individuals that prevents them from quickly seeing large, background-like motions.”

Therefore, the authors believe it is not a conscious strategy but instead something automatic and fundamentally different about the way their brains work.

The skill to eliminate distraction could be helpful in a world filled with more information than we can possibly absorb. It explains why some brains are more efficient than others.

Tadin concludes an efficient brain “has to be picky.”

Try the test yourself:

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald