The Seven Intelligences
Gardner rejects the thought that a person's mental power is a singular thing that can be captured with one test and communicated as a single number. From his observation of students on all levels and minds both gifted and damaged, he concluded that there are seven different ways in which humans process information. Each of us has a unique blend of these intelligences.
In 1983, he published his ideas in Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The concept was taken up by a multitude of schools and businesses as a better way to see the potential in each person. Certain mental abilities manifest themselves in particular parts of the brain. Certain brain damage or mental disability can have a dramatic effects on individual intelligences.
The seven forms of intelligence are:
Musical – The ability to feel pitch and rhythm. A musically intelligent person can easily communicate with sound and song. They rapidly learn new instruments. Autistic children sometimes have brilliant musical ability but cannot communicate otherwise. Certain types of brain damage may remove musical ability while leaving other skills intact.
Bodily-Kinesthetic – The ability to control the body and express oneself with it. Athletes and dancers have this. They know instinctively how to affect their physique and learn new skills. They swiftly understand the tools and equipment. They rapidly take information through the senses, like the speed and trajectory of a ball, and position their bodies accordingly. Physical capability is located in the motor cortex, with each side operating the opposite side of the body.
Logical-Mathematical – The ability to draw conclusions from data. This is the intelligence of great scientists and mathematicians. It is accurately measured and recognized by standardized testing. This type of mind can turn facts and statistics into theories and inventions, sometimes without being able to explain all the computations in between. The process can be quite rapid and involve a “eureka" epiphany. This activity takes place in the frontotemporal and bilateral parietofrontal lobes. Some savants can perform amazing calculations while lacking many other skills, indicating that this is an independent type of thinking.
Linguistic – The ability to understand language and communicate with it. This is the other type of intelligence recognized by traditional education. Strong linguistic minds rapidly learn languages. They easily adapt their form of speech or writing for their intended audience. From birth, children hungrily absorb any communication form presented to them. The Broca's Area in the brain is where logical sentences are formed. If it is damaged, individuals can understand what is said to them but have difficulty responding clearly.
Spatial – The ability to navigate, imagine and understand the physical world. Sailors who know their position on the globe based on small amounts of stellar information have this skill. So do visual artists who can represent an object in multiple ways. Architects who can feel how a drawing of a structure will behave in real life have strong spatial intelligence. This capacity is located in the posterior regions of the cerebral cortex.
Interpersonal – The ability to understand, communicate to and empathize with other people. This skill was easily overlooked by traditional testing while being very valuable in the real world. Politicians, psychologists, leaders and others with great charisma have this. They know how to get results and reactions from their fellow humans. They are sensitive to moods, motives and temperaments. This ability resides in the frontal lobes. Damage to them can destroy social ability while leaving other skills undamaged.
Intrapersonal – The ability to understand oneself. While interpersonal looks out, intrapersonal looks in. This type of person is in touch with their fears, tendencies, reactions and potential. They are realistic with themselves. This kind of intelligence is difficult to see unless it is expressed through music, writing or some other medium. This is also a brain function controlled by the frontal lobe. Certain autistic children may lack the intrapersonal side and be unable to refer to themselves while excelling in music, math, mechanics or other non-personal skills.