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Can IQ Be Improved?

The million-dollar question: Can IQ be improved?

Scientifically speaking, yes!

Just a few years back, the IQ of a human being was considered as something that is genetic and cannot be improved upon. However, various researches by eminent scientists and neuropsychologists have proven this myth wrong.

A study at Michigan University led by Swiss postdoctoral fellows Susanne M. Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl has revealed that at least one aspect of the IQ - a person's fluid intelligence, which was usually considered to be fixed at birth, can actually be improved. "When it comes to improving intelligence, many researchers concluded that it was not possible. Our findings, however, clearly show that this is not the case. Our brain is more plastic than we think," lead researcher of the team, Susanne M. Jaeggi said.

According to the research team, most IQ tests attempt to measure two types of intelligence - crystallized and fluid. Crystallized intelligence relies on existing skills, knowledge and experience to solve problems by accessing information from long-term memory. Fluid intelligence, on the other hand, relies on the ability to understand relationships between various concepts to solve the problems. It is independent of any previous knowledge, skills or experience and accesses information from short-term memory or "working memory". The researchers concluded that this part of intelligence can be improved.

The researchers gathered four volunteering groups and trained their working memories using a complex training task termed as 'dual n-back training'. The volunteers were provided with auditory and visual cues that they were supposed to store and recall. The training session would be held for half an hour after a gap of several days. The researchers found that the volunteer's fluid intelligence would go up after every session.

The results of this study is highly significant for those people who were academically poor in their childhood and since then have been tagged as one with low IQ for the rest of their lives. It is now possible to improve your IQ. All you need to do is exercise your brain.

A very high IQ indicates that the brain has been utilized appropriately. IQ can be improved and a person who initially could not score well in an IQ test can do better next time after following certain brain exercises.

Here are some of these exercises. One doesn't need to do all of them at a single-go. You can take up as many according to your convenience and suitability. If you force these exercises upon you, it may well take a toll on you and render a negative effect.

  • Writing - Make a regular habit of writing down your thoughts. Writing is said to be the best machine of the "mental gym". It provides the perfect workouts for creativity, logic and focus.
  • Reading - Try to finish a book every week. Reading novels and books leads you to a world of imagination and provides a much-needed break to your mind and gray cells.
  • Watching Fiction - This may include watching television, drama, theatre and plays. A world of fiction makes you imagine yourself in that position and leads to a diversion of thoughts that otherwise just revolve around your basic needs in this capitalist world.
  • Changing Hobbies - Engage yourself in new activities on a regular basis. Don't limit yourself to a particular activity for a long time. This will improve your learning capability. However, you should also take care of the fact that you should not keep on changing your hobby just for the sake of it. You should develop some interest in it and your gray matter should participate fully in it.
  • Solving Puzzles - Solve as many crosswords and puzzles as you can. It keeps your brain sharp and boosts your learning capabilities.
  • Playing Competitive Games - Games that involve a lot of competition and require strategies and thinking on your part are excellent ways to boost your logical skills.
  • Breaking Routines - Don't stick to a particular routine. Try breaking your habits occasionally. For e.g. Take a different breakfast or the same breakfast at a different time; change your sleeping place etc.
  • Exchanging Cultural Views - Meeting people from different parts of the world or people of different race and origin and interaction with them leads to a healthy exchange of cultural information. This provides fresh vibes inside you and sharpens your perceptual skills.
  • Debating - Take part in friendly debates. This implies that you should discuss a certain topic; but not argue upon it. This will help you to examine your own opinions and will develop your reasoning skills.
  • Teaching - Whatever little opportunity you get to teach make the most of it. When you teach something, you get to understand that thing more. The more you repeat that topic, the more it develops your understanding capability.

Well! Despite the Michigan university study confirming that a person's IQ can be improved, I am sure that many of the 'traditional' readers might still be having an element of doubt.

To clear their doubts, here is an argument - It is universally accepted that IQ comes from a combination of both genetics and environment. Experts believe that the genes affect our IQ by 40 to 80 percent and the remaining comes from external environment. Now, what will happen if a person is kept in isolation from all external stimuli? What will be the proportion of their intelligence coming from the environment? Obviously zero! Isn't? Hence, the more stimuli a person gets from the world, the more is their intelligence based on the environment.

I hope you all are satisfied now. If not yet, then look at this: Studies have found significant increase in IQ from one generation to the other. It increases 21 points on an average in 30 years. Such an increase can result only from the surrounding environment. Hence, it is proved that IQ does change based on the environment.

However, at the end, I would also like to say that people who claim "that IQ can be improved only on short-term basis" might not be totally incorrect. If people discontinue the brain exercises, they can experience a fall in their IQs. Hence, if you want long-term improvements, you've to keep repeating the exercises. Moreover, there has been a universal argument that repeated exposure to IQ tests improves your IQ. According to me, this is a valid point. I fully agree to it and advise you all to continue doing the brain exercises and attempt more and more IQ tests because "IQ can be definitely improved."

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