In the latest debate on hard work versus innate talent, there’s now more research saying that IQ is not fixed; instead it goes up and down during a person’s lifetime (via the Wall Street Journal):“Scores can change gradually or quickly, after as little as a few weeks of cognitive training, research shows. The increases are usually so incremental that they’re not immediately perceptible to individuals, and the intelligence-boosting effects of cognitive training can fade after a few months.”
There’s a lot of research supporting this theory. In one, “33 British students were given IQ tests and brain scans at ages 12 to 16 and again about four years later by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; 9% of the students showed a significant change of 15 points or more in IQ scores,” reports the Journal.
The Journal also points out a 30-year study by the National Institute of Mental Health that found people who worked in complex environments performed better over time than those who had jobs that didn’t require as much thinking.
Another by the University of Michigan shows that intense training influences IQ. The study, “Improving Fluid Intelligence With Training On Working Memory” focuses on fluid intelligence (Gf), a measure of intelligence that “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.”
Researchers had 70 healthy young participants perform complex “working memory” tasks, and the groups who trained to perform the tasks (through up to 19 intense sessions) performed significantly better — and ultimately scored higher in terms of fluid intelligence.
Musicians also have higher IQs — but only so long as they practice. The Journal points out that the University of Toronto found six years of music lessons increased children’s IQ scores by 7.5 points, but that these scores fell a few years later, after the study participants stopped studying music.
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