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Brain Scans and Career Choice

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Do you have a child or grandchild who’s trying to make a career choice? Researchers are trying to find if brain scans can be a useful tool for vocational guidance.  Counsellors often use general aptitude tests and  mental ability tests for this purpose and researchers are now asking whether performance on these tests is based on differences in brain structure.  In the journal BMC Research Notes they investigated how well eight tests used in vocational guidance correlate to gray matter in areas throughout the brain.

Richard Haier, from the University of California, USA, worked with a team of researchers to investigate the neurological basis for performance on each of the tests.

Using MRI, the researchers correlated gray matter with independent ability factors like speed of reasoning, and spatial skills, and with individual test scores from a battery of cognitive tests completed by 40 individuals seeking vocational guidance. They found different areas grey matter correlated to different types of tests.

Their conclusion: Since a person’s strengths and weaknesses are related to their brain structure, it’s very possibile that brain scans could provide unique information that would be helpful in choosing a career.


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