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Does the C-Score measure IQ?

The differences between the C-Score and IQ.

Mike Battista avatar
Written by Mike Battista
Updated over a week ago

Not exactly. The C-Score is related with IQ and intelligence, but has several key differences from and advantages over IQ:

1. Some of the tests that contribute to the C-Score are improved versions of traditional IQ tests.

The tests are similar to, and some are based off of, cognitive tests that have been used in psychological testing literature for decades. Indeed, some of the same tests have been adapted for IQ tests. So there is a link between IQ and the C-Score, but we like to think that we have taken the parts of IQ tests that are relevant to measuring cognitive performance, and made them better.

2. IQ helps improve your C-Score, but the rest is up to you.

Of course, people with a higher IQ score will likely have a higher C-Score, on average. But we want to go beyond average. Taking a cognitive test, or performing any real-life feat of mental ability, is a complex series of events, and anything from your mood to your motivation to how cold your fingers are (clicking can be hard if they're frozen) can affect how well you do. Whatever IQ measures is a big part of explaining variation in C-Scores, but there are a lot of other things that contribute too, and many of them are under your control.

3. IQ is presented as a trait; The C-Score is a state.

A lot of talk about IQ treats intelligence as something you are, not something you do. It is assumed to be determined by factors outside of your control (e.g., genetics, upbringing) and stable over your lifetime. We see the C-Score as a measure of what your mind can do right now—it's a performance score. Just like you can run faster on some days than others, there are times when your brain works well, and times when you can barely remember your own name. The C-Score gives you an estimate of how well your brain is currently working. In combination with your journal entries, you can figure out what affects your performance, so you can make changes that improve your scores.

4. We don't think intelligence is one thing anyway.

A lot of researchers believe that there is one thing—a so-called general ("g") factor—that is common to all intellectual feats. IQ tests are judged on how well they measure "g," implying that IQ measures the core of intelligence, and intelligence is one thing. We take a different approach. When we used BrainLabs tests in a large study that examined intelligence and brain imaging (Hampshire et al., 2012), the main conclusion was that there are at least three different different brain networks that contribute to cognitive performance. Most tasks rely on more than one brain network, so it might seem like they're all related to each other, but if you know what to look for, you can tease them apart. What are these three independent categories of performance? You guessed it; they're the domain scores that BrainLabs calculates for you: reasoning, short-term memory, and verbal ability.

5. Your category scores are as important as the C-Score and IQ.

When you play multiple tests on BrainLabs, we calculate three cognitive performance scores for you: reasoning, short-term memory, and verbal ability. Both long-term and on any given day, you might be great in one category, but fall behind in others. Your C-Score is a snapshot of overall performance, but your category scores provide more detail on the nuances of cognition. We believe that cognition is more complex than a single number.


  • Hampshire, A., Highfield, R. R., Parkin, B. L., & Owen, A. M. (2012). Fractionating human intelligence. Neuron, 76, 1-13. Download PDF

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