At 14 years old, I switched schools to a much larger, public institution and was required to take intelligence and reasoning tests so the guidance counselors could place me in the appropriate-level courses. I remember little about those tests—perhaps they contained spatial reasoning questions, perhaps basic logic questions. At the end, the results declared my aptitude, and I was channeled into high school life.
For more than a century we’ve known that under the correct conditions we can accurately determine individual cognitive ability. But in the future, might we also assess a child’s nature using newfound tests, such as the one described by Scott Barry Kaufman in “The Dark Core of Personality”? Would we provide different resources to students who scored high in the malevolence category, for example? Would we steer them away from careers in politics or medicine? For more insight, read Kaufman’s piece and take the nine-question quiz to determine how wicked you are.
Elsewhere in this issue, researchers are investigating the power of ritual to alter behavior (see “Need More Self-Control? Try a Simple Ritual”). Anouk Bercht interviews neuroscientist Steven Laureys about the latest tools for detecting consciousness in comatose patients (see “How Can We Tell If a Comatose Patient Is Conscious?”). And in one of my favorite features of the year, we present the colorful winners of the Art of Neuroscience competition, an annual contest directed by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (see “Prize-Winning Images of the Brain”). Human behavior can indeed be smart, ugly, altruistic or mean, but all brains have their beauty.
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