High IQ is a valuable property with numerous benefits including general happiness, health and economic benefits. It’s not surprising that asking if IQ matters has been a fundamental question of both theoretical and practical interest. Can human cognitive capacity that allows learning, memory, thinking and performance be enhanced in adults?
Previously it was thought that the combination of genetics and early childhood environment factors determine the life-long cognitive capacity and intelligence level of an individual. As noted in the Definition of Intelligence and Does IQ matter? Sections of our site, standardized intelligence quotient (IQ) scores forecast performance on an extensive range of cognitive tasks as well as working life achievements, and so IQ scores are often used as a measure of person’s cognitive abilities.
Earlier studies have shown that IQ scores measured in childhood correlate firmly with the IQ scores tested in late-adulthood. One study based on the Scottish Mental Surveys showed an IQ test score correlation of 0.77 from ages 11 to 77 in a longitudinal study.
These findings suggested that the major variation of general cognitive abilities between individuals is determined by late childhood or early adolescence. The correlation was shown to be especially strong for fluid intelligence relative to crystalized intelligence. This is because the scores testing crystallized intelligence can be enhanced, for example, by vocabulary training. The results also emphasized the fixed nature of fluid intelligence.
IQ Test Scores Can Be Enhanced Through Working Memory Exercises!
In recent times, evidence has emerged that has shown some plasticity in IQ and its neural bases. Verbal and performance IQ scores have especially shown fluctuation through the teenage years rather than remaining static.
It was in 2008 when Jaeggi and her colleagues published their revolutionary results that indicate adult fluid intelligence and IQ can be enhanced by a specific cognitive training program. In the study, young adults performed working memory exercises for about 25 minutes per day for up to 19 days. The training method used was "Dual-N-Back" game.
In the Dual N-Back game, a participant simultaneously hears letters and sees spatial locations one after another. The challenge is to respond whenever a presented stimulus was identical to the stimulus n trials ago. For example, in dual 2-back game, subjects respond when the current spatial location or the auditory stimulus matched the ones from 2 trials earlier. An example of similar games can be found in Lumosity and the like.
The training rapidly improved performance on the trained working memory task but it also increased the post-training fluid intelligence (the study concentrated on the fluid intelligence - they didn’t test IQ score). However, it does seem to indicate that this is one way of how to increase IQ.
This was the first time when a learned skill was shown to transfer to growth in fluid intelligence (predicting IQ increase) as IQ and fluid intelligence were previously viewed static. The fluid intelligence improvement was shown to be proportional to the time trained. Because superior fluid intelligence means superior IQ with superior performance on many cognitive tasks, these findings offer astonishing possibilities.