Understanding head injury and intellectual recovery from brain damage: is IQ an
G. Cahn and R. E. Gould,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
24(1): 135-42, 1996.
A person's intelligence (or IQ) has long been synonymous with cognitive and general abilities to
function daily on an effective level. When traumatic brain injury occurs, there is a natural desire to
find some measure that identifies the amount of damage that has occurred and whether it is
permanent or temporary. Given the popularity of the IQ test, there is a tendency to use this measure
as such a yardstick. It is argued that such a global measure is not appropriate. The predominant
reason that it is not a wise choice is that IQ test does not tap into many of the critical areas of a
person's functioning, such as personality regulation, shorter-term memory, various types of
attentional capacity, and the ability to organize and plan effectively. Rather, to truly and accurately
reflect a person's neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses requires the use of many different
measures, not just a single one such as an IQ score.