Do you think brain surgeons and rocket scientists no brighter than the rest of us? Experts answer

WION Web Team
London, United Kingdom Published: Dec 14, 2021, 12:46 PM(IST)

In this file photo, a rocket of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) can be seen Photograph:( WION )

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Researchers added that as per the result of the research it is evident that these individuals might not be better at everything, but they are good in some things and that is what makes them great at their work

A group of researchers have claimed that aerospace engineers and brain surgeons are not brighter than the general population.

According to their findings published in the festive edition of the BMJ, it was neurosurgeons who were able to ace the problem-solving questions with good speed, but even they recorded slower memory recall in comparison with the general population.

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"The difference in problem-solving speed exhibited by neurosurgeons might arise from the fast-paced nature of neurosurgery, which attracts those with a pre-existing flair for rapid processing, or it could be, albeit less likely, a product of training for rapid decision-making in time-critical situations," researchers reported.

This study was conducted on 748 people (600 aerospace engineers and 148 neurosurgeons), out of which 401 (329 aerospace engineers and 72 neurosurgeons) complete datasets were analysed. The participants were put through a validated online test (Cognitron’s Great British Intelligence Test) that measured different aspects of attention, reasoning, memory and emotion processing abilities of the participants.

Researchers decided to conduct this study to settle the debate started by the Mitchell and Webb sketch, in which an aerospace expert drums down a neurosurgeon by slamming him with "Brain surgery … it's not exactly rocket science is it?"

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The analysis showed that while aerospace experts have better attention and mental manipulation, neurosurgeons are better at semantic problem solving. "Essentially what we think it shows is that everyone has a range of skills, some people are better at some things and other people are better at other things, and it is very difficult to be better in everything across the board," said Aswin Chari, an author of the study.

She also added that as per the result of the research it is evident that these individuals might not be better at everything, but they are good in some things and that is what makes them great at their work.

"It is also possible that other professions might deserve to be on that pedestal, and future work should aim to determine the most deserving group," the researchers concluded.

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