child drawing
Children who received high scores in the "Draw –a –Child" test at age four also scored high in intelligence tests at the same age and at age 14.Liza/Flickr

Drawing skills at early stages of growth may be an indication of later intelligence, new research shows.

Children in the study, who received high scores in the "Draw –A –Child" test at age four also scored high on intelligence tests at the same age and at age 14.

The study included nearly 7,752 pairs of identical twins and 15,504 non-identical twins. At age four, each participant was asked to draw a child's picture. The drawings were evaluated and rated 0 to 12 according to the ability of the child to reproduce human features like eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, body and arms correctly.

The children also underwent intelligence tests, both verbal and non-verbal at age four and 14. Results showed a direct link between a child's ability to transfer his or her observations in mind onto a piece of paper and intelligence levels. Children, who scored high in the drawing test, exhibited higher intelligence levels, even after many years.

"The Draw-a-Child test was devised in the 1920's to assess children's intelligence, so the fact that the test correlated with intelligence at age 4 was expected. What surprised us was that it correlated with intelligence a decade later," lead author of the study, Dr Rosalind Arden, from the King's College London, said in a news release.

Researchers said that genes played a huge role in this occurrence. Making the link clearer, identical twins produced similar drawings than non-identical twins. This may be because non-identical twins share only 50 percent of their genes unlike identical twins who share almost all their genes, researchers said.

However, eliminating the existence of a "drawing gene", Dr Arden attributed drawing skills in childhood to a child's ability to observe things and hold pencil.

Dr Arden asked parents not to get panic about the findings as a person's intelligence is also influenced by many other factors: "The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly. Drawing ability does not determine intelligence; there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life."

However, at the same time, Arden also said that the human ability to reproduce figures is a clear "sign of cognitive ability."

The findings of the study have been reported in Psychological Science.

An online investigation into the matter shows that the Draw- A- Person test has long been used in clinics to measure children's mental development. Children start scribbling at the age of two and draw circles and lines representing persons at age three. By age four, they start making clearer human figures.

Previous research shows that details in the drawings like enlarged or reduced body parts, heavy lines or faint lines have clear meanings.

Children who draw large heads want to be smarter and tiny head shows intellectual inadequacy. Similarly, drawings emphasized on the mouth, (language difficulty), nose (respiratory problems), ears (hearing problem or suspicious about others talking about him/her), eyes without pupils (visual problems or difficulties in mingling with people) and teeth (aggressiveness, physical abuse and leadership abilities) indicate different factors.

Additionally, replacing eyes with Xs can be an indication of physical abuse, while large eyes signal suspiciousness, presence of belly button in drawings indicate dependency.