For many years physicians and medical researchers alike believed intelligence to be a fixed trait; one that is inherited at birth. However, in recent years, evidence has emerged suggesting intelligence can be altered. The part of intelligence capable of improving is called “fluid intelligence” – your ability to solve problems and think rationally. Below are some of the most influential studies in the field of intelligence training.
Studies on intelligence
Study: Can training executive functions (cognitive functioning) produce transfer effects?
Results: The study at the Saarland University demonstrated that increasing fluid intelligence and other executive functions is possible at any age with brain training.
Source: Karbach J, Kray J., How useful is executive control training? Age differences in near and far transfer of task-switching training. Dev Sci. 2009 Nov;12(6):978-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00846.x.
Study: Should brain training exercises be different for adults and children?
Results: The study at the Duke University in Durham found that children who improved their working memory with training increased their scores in untrained intelligence tasks, just as adults did.
Source: Jaeggi SM, Buschkuehl M, Jonides J, Shah P.Proc; Short- and long term benefits of cognitive training; Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 21;108(25):10081-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103228108. Epub 2011 Jun 13
Study: Can training of participant’s working memory capacity in certain areas bring about transfer effects?
Results: The study conducted at the University of Zurich found that transfer effects directly corresponded to participant’s improvements in the brain training tasks. These improvements were only observed in areas which the training targeted, and were still seen 6 months after training.
Source: von Bastian C., Oberauer K., (2013)Distinct transfer effects of training different facets of working memory capacity; Journal of Memory and Language July 2013; 69(1): 36-58. doi: 10.1016 / j.jml.2013.02.002
Distinct transfer effects of training different facets of working memory capacity
Study: Can cognitive training generate transfer effects?
Results: A study at the Columbia University in New York found improvements in participant’s fluid intelligence, even in areas unrelated to the training tasks. In addition, the improvements were dosage dependant – the more training participants did, the more benefits they saw.
Source: Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., Perrig, W. J. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105, 6829–6833. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801268105
Study: Can intelligence training be beneficial in old age?
Results: A study at the Pennsylvania State University found improvements in elderly persons thinking and learning abilities. Participants aged between 70-80 years performed better in figural relations tests 7 years following their first training session.
Source: Willis, L.S., Nesselroade, S., Long-Term effects of fluid ability training in old-old age, Developmental Psychology 1990, doi: Vol. 26(6), 905-910
Study: Can working memory improve in old age, and are the benefits sustainable over time?
Results: The study examined participants aged 65-75 years, and observed improvements in fluid intelligence and processing speed eight months after the training with brain games was complete.
Source: Borella, E., Carretti, B., Riboldi, F., De Beni, R. (2010). Working memory training in older adults: Evidence of transfer and maintenance effects. Psychol. Aging 25, 767–778. doi: 10.1037/a0020683.
Study: What should the ideal brain training regime consist of, in order to improve users memory and intelligence?
Results: Brain training produced improvements in episodic memory and fluid intelligence. The more improvements observed in training, the larger the gains were in the tests following the training.
Source: Rudebeck, S., Bor, D., Ormond, A., O’Reilly, J., Lee, A. (2012). A potential spatial working memory training task to improve both episodic memory and fluid intelligence. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50431. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050431.
Study: Does working memory training affect participant’s fluid intelligence, and how do these effects change the way the brain functions?
Results: Those who did brain training saw improvements on all dimensions of their fluid intelligence. This was thought to be due to changes in the brain’s working memory maintenance and processes directed by central executive. Changes in participant’s long term memory may also have been observed, but further research is needed.
Source: Jaušovec, N., Jaušovec, K. (2012) Working memory training: Improving intelligence – Changing brain activity. Brain and Cognition;79(2):96-106. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2012.02.007.
Study: Does cognitive training produce improvements in user’s intellectual competence in adulthood and old age?
Results: Training brought about cognitive improvements in both young (20-31 years) and old (65-80 years) participants.
Source: Schmiedek F., Lövdén M., Lindenberger U. (2010). Hundred days of cognitive training enhance broad cognitive abilities in adulthood: Findings from the COGITO study, Front Aging Neurosci.; 2(27). doi: 10.3389 / fnagi.2010.00027
Study: Is the single n-back test as effective as the dual n-back test in producing transferable results?
Results: Both groups who trained with single n-back and dual n-back tasks showed significantly larger improvements in their fluid intelligence than the control groups, indicating that both tasks require similar cognitive functioning and produce similar results.
Source: Jaeggi, S.M., Studer, B., Buschkuehl, M., Su, Y.F., Jonides, J., & Perrig, W.J. (2010).The relationship between n-back performance and matrix reasoning – implications for training and transfer. Intelligence; 38(6), 625-635.
Study: What makes some children prodigies?
Results: Prodigy children did not exhibit off-the-charts IQ scores, but they scored in the top 99th percentile for working memory tests.
Source: Ruthsatz, J., & Urbach, J. B. (2012). Child prodigy: A novel cognitive profile places elevated general intelligence, exceptional working memory and attention to detail at the root of prodigiousness. Intelligence; 40(5), 419-426.