Intelligence Disorders

What is an Intelligence Disorder?

Intelligence is an integrative mental function, including the ability to know, the level of knowledge and the ability to use them. Among the disorders of the intellect are mental retardation and dementia, which are divided into diffuse and lacunar, as well as developmental delays and defects.

Background, norm and evolution

Intelligence is thinking in action. It reflects a holistic ability to adapt the psyche and is an instrument of individual survival. In animals, the level of intelligence can be determined by the ability to solve problems, for example, by the speed of the maze. For the development of intelligence, it is important to combine genetic, including constitutional, factors and environmental influences, including upbringing and training. F. Halton found that intelligence is inherited. It is likely that some forms of intellectual deficiency, as well as abilities, are transmitted according to the dominant type, for example, musical abilities, others according to the recessive and polygenic type, although there are also forms that resemble mutations, that is, isolated cases in families. F. Halton belonged to the genus Ch. Darwin, which also included Erasm Darwin and many other English scientists, political leaders and writers whose genetic line is traced to the present. There are detailed descriptions of the genetics of abilities in the genus of I.S. Bach, genealogy of Russian writers associated with A.S. Pushkin, the Tolstoy family, the Habsbrugs, etc. Intellectual abilities and reactions to the environment are marked by some constitutional features and dysplasias, for example, morphological features are known for chromosomal abnormalities.

The intelligence’s operational capabilities may be related to the age of the mother and father at the time of conception. The level of intelligence is sometimes associated with the age of the mother at the time of birth, because after 35 years the probability of egg mutagenesis increases, therefore, Down syndrome is more common. The blood relationship of the mother and father is important, which increases the risk of intelligence anomalies, as well as the distance between the places of origin of the mother of the father, since with a small distance the likelihood of blood relationship increases. In other words, heterosis (mestization), as a phenomenon of the advantage of heterozygotes over homozygotes, contributes to great advantages, including in terms of intelligence.

Environmental factors also affect intelligence. In the embryonic period, the brain can be damaged by teratogenic factors, such as intoxication and infections, for example, viruses or alcohol. There is a high probability of brain damage during hypoxia as a result of placental abruption, prematurity, and brain damage at the time of delivery. Early abnormal mother-child interactions, especially separation and deprivation, lead to developmental delays that can be fixed (Spitz).

The structure and learning systems can suppress or stimulate latent intellectual abilities. A number of individuals possess exceptional intellectual abilities that are noticeable from a very young age. Ch. Lombroso believed that most geniuses are degenerates and mentally ill, but after almost 150 years V.P. Efroimson showed that intelligence genetics is only relatively related to productive psychopathology. He singled out families and wonderful personalities who have a high intellectual level associated with gout, that is, the level of uric acid, the level of endogenous caffeine and the level of hormones. However, “good” genetics and “good” environment do not always lead to a satisfactory result, since the ability to realize potentials, that is, the need to achieve a goal, is also important for the realization of intelligence.

This function may not be related to intelligence, but determines the level of dominance and self-esteem. A universal intelligence model includes operational level, productivity and content. The operational level consists of memory, thinking, the ability to converge and diverge ideas, conduct distraction (abstraction). The productivity of intelligence consists in the ability to combine ideas into groups, classes, systems, relationships. The content of intelligence can be verbal (stock of words and operating with them), non-verbal (strategies of behavior and their use), symbolic and semantic. Many researchers believe that an important component of intelligence is a sense of humor and the ability to irony over oneself. The level of achievement of the maximum intellectual level is on average 40-50 years, if this is not hindered by personality traits, environmental influences or somatic disorders. However, the degree of gradual acquisition and loss of intelligence depends on genetic mental abilities. So, stupid people get smarter slowly and faster become even more stupid, and smart people get smart faster and get stupid after 60 years slower. To a large extent, the level of intelligence is supported by continuous learning, somatic health, and rejection of bad habits. True, this is not always confirmed in practice, for example, while maintaining high intelligence, W. Churchill continued to smoke cigars until late age and did not refuse cognac. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the maximum IQ values are shown not by men, but by women.

Symptoms of Intelligence Disorders

In the pathology of intelligence, mental retardation and dementia are distinguished, which are divided into diffuse and lacunar, as well as developmental delays and defects.

The difference between mental retardation and dementia is that it represents an initial failure, while dementia is an acquired condition. The critical point is considered to be about 3 years old. If a child loses his abilities before this age, he is considered mentally retarded, if after him – suffering from dementia. The causes of mental retardation differ in genetic and acquired. Among the genetic causes, gene and chromosomal abnormalities, mutations that lead to metabolic diseases are possible. Among environmental causes, the influence of teratogenic, including genetic factors on the genetic apparatus, damage during childbirth, and diseases acquired in the first 3 years of life are highlighted. The separation of mental retardation and its clinic are described in the relevant sections. For mental retardation, with the exception of some metabolic processes, an increase in symptoms is not characteristic, but even some progress as a result of special training is peculiar. A description of the degrees of mental retardation is given in the relevant sections of the textbook.

Dementia is expressed in acquired cognitive deficits in the areas of memory, thinking, learning, volitional activity. If a change in intelligence concerns only one function, for example, memory, then they speak of lacunar, that is, focal dementia, which is characteristic of atrophic dementia, for example, Alzheimer’s disease. If it concerns the gradual decrease or loss of all (several) functions – about diffuse dementia, that is, global dementia, which is more often observed with multi-infarct dementia. However, often these two types of dementia pass into each other, so we can say that most dementia develop in dynamics from focal to diffuse. Dementia is more often progressive (translational) in nature, and they are irreversible.

The delay in the development of intelligence is usually caused by specific environmental conditions, for example, raising a child with mentally ill parents, isolation, deprivation of normal education, for example, as a result of economic difficulties. However, unlike dementia and dementia, with a delay, a quick set of the “bar” of intelligence is possible as a result of proper training, quite good ability to adapt in real life is also noted.

With schizophrenia, functional dementia (defect) is noted, it is expressed in the fact that, despite inactivity and the avoidance of new knowledge, coldness and detachment, patients produce fantasies and productive experiences. They, in addition, can completely get out of a defect state, including before death. Such, in particular, is the recovery of Don Quixote described by Cervantes.

Diagnosis of Intelligence Disorders

The main method of researching intelligence is to calculate the intelligence coefficient, which is established on the basis of testing (IQ). The coefficient is calculated based on the division of mental age (the number of correct answers given by an individual) by chronological age (the average number of correct answers characteristic of a given age) and multiplication by 100.

Nevertheless, tests for intelligence should take into account the specifics of culture and ethnicity. There are ethnic groups that do not value abstract knowledge, but rely on the practical side in their assessments, therefore, although their representatives will show low coefficients, in reality they can be more successful in adaptation, especially in stressful environmental conditions.