Brainwaves and IQ

The relationship between brainwave activity and IQ is complex. While some literature references fast gamma brainwaves as being associated with high IQ, certain scientific studies show no correlation between high IQ people and gamma brainwaves.

One study found that higher IQ individuals exhibited greater degrees of alpha brainwave synchrony between the right and left hemispheres of the neocortex during eyes closed rest. 

Other IQ-related studies involving brainwaves focus less on brainwave frequencies and instead find correlation between high IQ and how brainwaves manifest in different parts of the brain.

To make it even more complex, we now know that what is generally referenced as IQ represents only certain aspects of intelligence, such as spatial-temporal reasoning, logic, mathematics, pattern recognition, linguistics, cultural awareness, etc. As such, whatever the current brainwave studies tell us about intelligence is still very likely just a small slice of what the holistic gestalt of human intelligence really looks like.

Featured below are a series of snippets and quotes from various studies (with links) related to brainwaves and IQ. Enjoy!



It has often been proposed that faster central nervous system (CNS) processing amounts to a smarter brain. One way to index speed of CNS processing is through the assessment of brain oscillations via electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings.

Earlier studies have found high peak frequencies to be associated with higher intelligence.

In the present study, data from 271 extended twin families (688 participants) were collected as part of a large, ongoing project on the genetics of adult brain function and cognition. IQ was assessed with the Dutch version of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IIIR), from which four dimensions were calculated (verbal comprehension, working memory, perceptual organization, and processing speed).

A large part of the genetic variance in alpha peak frequency as well as in working memory and processing speed was due to nonadditive factors. There was no evidence of a genetic correlation between alpha peak frequency and any of the four WAIS dimensions:

Smarter brains do not seem to run faster.

At the corporate retreat of Precious Moments, a company whose business revolves around quality artwork production, the Biocybernaut Institute performed IQ tests on everyone before the alpha brainwave training they conducted with the company and again about four months after the alpha training. They found an average IQ increase of 11.7 points of IQ not related to age or the initial IQ.

This meant the alpha training was boosting everyone’s IQ essentially. The average time between pre-and post-IQ tests was about four months, and some trainees took a year.

There were no significant correlations between the measured IQ boost and how long after the alpha training the post-training IQ was measured. This meant there was no tendency for the IQ boost to fade over time- at least out to one year after the Alpha Training.

This study examined the synchrony of brainwave peaks and troughs in people sitting calmly with their eyes closed.

This study showed that higher IQ was correlated with phase delay, or greater synchrony between brainwaves, within the prefrontal cortex.

Furthermore, it was found that the longer the phase lag between brainwaves in the frontal lobes and other cortical regions, the higher the IQ of the person involved.

One way to interpret these results is that in higher IQ people, the prefrontal cortex performs certain tasks at such high efficiency, it thereby energetically entrains other brain regions through synchrony, which follow the prefrontal cortex’s lead with a phase lag.

This study explored the role of brain waves in the expression of intelligence and spiritual intelligence.

Methods and Materials:

Thirty participants were assessed on different scales of intelligence and spiritual intelligence and their brainwaves were recorded via an electroencephalogram (EEG). The relative power of each electrode was then correlated with the individual raw scores on the scales.

Results and Conclusions:

Scores of intelligence and spiritual intelligence had significant positive correlation with relative alpha, beta, and theta waves power and significant negative correlation with relative delta waves power.

Stepwise multiple regression analysis demonstrated that alpha waves are the best predictor of intelligence and spiritual intelligence, followed by theta waves.

A.H. Jahidin*, M.N. Taib, N.M. Tahir, M.S.A. Megat Ali and S. Lias

Procedia – Social and Behavorial Sciences

The aim of this work is to analyze asymmetry patterns of resting brainwaves for different intelligence levels.

EEG signals were measured from fifty samples and three IQ levels were established from Raven's Progressive Matrices.

Asymmetry scores for alpha and beta waves were computed by subtracting ln-transformed ESD of the left from right hemisphere.

The study showed that individuals in the high IQ level exhibit a balanced brain with smaller asymmetry scores for alpha and beta waves compared to medium and low IQ levels.

Meanwhile, the medium and low IQ levels exhibit unbalanced brain alpha and beta activity with greater asymmetry values.

The total energy the brain consumes and the intensities of information flows across different brain regions in an intellectual activity may help to explain an individual's intelligence level.

To verify this assumption, 43 students aged 18–25 were recruited as the research subjects. Their intelligence quotients (IQ) were scored by using Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), while their electroencephalogram (EEG) signals were recorded simultaneously by using the Neuroscan system.

The total energy and distribution patterns of EEG signals were acquired in Curry 8.0. The intensities of information flow across different brain regions were measured by Phase Slope Index (PSI). 20 channels and 190 channel combinations were selected for data analysis.

It was found that the energy of EEG signals in an intellectual activity was negatively correlated with the IQ score. A possible reason could be that a person of high intelligence level may characterize a mental task as “light" while a person of relatively low intelligence level characterize it as “heavy"; the former therefore spend less energy to fulfill the mental task.

In this study, we found that the information °ow in long distance channel combinations were positively correlated to IQ scores on speci¯c frequencies and a®ected the subject's intelligence level more than the information °ow in short distance channel combinations did, which is inconsistent with previous studies.


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