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Can you improve your intelligence?

22 Nov, 2019
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Can you improve your intelligence?

As a kid, my grandparents would keep insisting that having almonds will help me in being smart and intelligent. For the longest time, I considered almonds to be this magic food item that can be eaten for instant energy and increased cognitive function. Another notion I carried all along was that a person’s intelligence or cognitive abilities decreased with time.

Did you also think that your memory, as well as intelligence, declined with age? If that’s what you also thought or believed, it is time you diss away these beliefs.

According to shreds of research, there are two forms of intelligence- fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is what you have grasped or learnt in the current times. “Fluid intelligence (Gf) refers to the ability to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge. Gf is critical for a wide variety of cognitive tasks, and it is considered one of the most important factors in learning. Moreover, Gf is closely related to professional and educational success, especially in complex and demanding environments,” says a study named ‘Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory’, published in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 

Crystallized intelligence, on the other hand, deals with internalizing what you have learnt. It is based upon facts, knowledge, and experiences that you have accumulated over the years. According to another study named ‘Crystallized and fluid intelligence of university students with intellectual disability who are fully integrated versus those who studied in adapted enrichment courses’ said, “Crystallized intelligence is considered a “maintained” ability that increases into a person’s 60s and then declines. Fluid intelligence is defined as “the use of deliberate and controlled mental operations to solve novel problems that cannot be performed automatically”. It is associated with frontal executive function, working memory, analogies, and understanding of metaphors. Fluid intelligence is a “vulnerable” ability, peaking into one’s early 20s and then declining. The crystallized and fluid tests used in this study can be regarded as markers for these constructs.”

Can you improve your intelligence?

Yes! It is obvious that crystallized intelligence can be improved by accumulating more information. Fluid intelligence, however, was always thought to be set in stone. Currently, new ways of improving your intelligence have been found. Two of the most common ways to improve intelligence are:

  1. Brain training.
  2. Meditation.
  3. Computerized cognitive training.
  4. N-Back training.
  5. Learn an instrument (something that recruits both halves of your brain).

References:

  1. Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., & Perrig, W. J. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America105(19), 6829–6833. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801268105
  2. Lifshitz, H., Verkuilen, J., Shnitzer-Meirovich, S., & Altman, C. (2018). Crystallized and fluid intelligence of university students with intellectual disability who are fully integrated versus those who studied in adapted enrichment courses. PloS one13(4), e0193351. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0193351

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