Teenagers are less intelligent than a generation ago, claims study
The number of exceptionally bright teenagers is significantly lower than a generation ago, a new study claims.
The most intelligent 14-year-old in 2008 is now only on a par with the brightest 12-year-old in 1976, according to the findings.
Researchers at King's College, London, asked 800 children aged 13 and 14 to take a series of tests which measured their understanding of abstract scientific concepts such as volume, density, quantity and weight.
The results were compared with a similar exercise in 1976.
In a test known as the pendulum test just over one in ten were found to have reached top grades which demanded a 'higher level of thinking', a significant drop from the 1976 result of one in four.
In a second test, which assessed mathematical thinking skills, one in five youngsters in 1976 had achieved high grades whereas the figure from the most recent study was only one in 20.
But average achievement was found to be similar in teenagers from both generations.
Professor Michael Shayar, who led the study, said: "The pendulum test does not require any knowledge of science at all. It looks at how people can deal with complex information and sort it out for themselves."
He believes that the decline in brainpower has happened over the last ten to 15 years and could be a result of national curriculum targets which drill children for tests as well as changes in children's leisure activities, such as an increase in computer games and television watching.