New research shows that, with simple brain exercises, you may be able to actually increase your intelligence — something scientists previously thought impossible.
The proof is far from concrete yet, but quite a bit of new evidence suggests that your IQ may be more fluid than originally thought. A study done in 2008 tested children using a "Dual N-Back" game, in which you had to remember longer and longer sequences of things as the game continues, much like Simon Says. The researchers found that this game actually targets a fluid part of the brain:
. . .the deceptively simple game, it turns out, targets the most elemental of cognitive skills: "working" memory. What long-term memory is to crystallized intelligence, working memory is to fluid intelligence. Working memory is more than just the ability to remember a telephone number long enough to dial it; it's the capacity to manipulate the information you're holding in your head — to add or subtract those numbers, place them in reverse order or sort them from high to low. Understanding a metaphor or an analogy is equally dependent on working memory; you can't follow even a simple statement like "See Jane run" if you can't put together how "see" and "Jane" connect with "run." Without it, you can't make sense of anything.
In following studies, the researchers found that over time, children of all intelligence levels showed gains in cognitive abilities due to this "fluid" intelligence, and that these gains lasted three months after training stopped. Their theory is that your IQ, while partially genetic, is not unlike the muscles in your body — if you train it, and keep up that training over time, you can strengthen it. You can play a version of the Dual N-Back game for free, and while there's still a lot of research to be done on this subject, they say you only need 15 to 25 minutes a day, five days a week to see improvements. Hit the link to read the full story over at the New York Times. And, while they won't all necessarily increase your IQ, check out our top 10 other ways to train, exercise and better your brain.
Can You Make Yourself Smarter? [New York Times Magazine]