Is It Possible to Boost Your Intelligence by Training?

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Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

The evidence suggests that various training programs can lead to improvements in specific cognitive skills and aspects of intelligence. However, the extent to which these gains translate to overall intelligence remains a topic of debate. While cognitive and multi-modal training, SMART training, and music training have shown promise, the development of personalized training programs may hold the key to more substantial and lasting improvements in intelligence.

The quest to enhance human intelligence has long fascinated scientists and the general public alike. Various training programs, ranging from cognitive exercises to physical fitness routines, have been proposed as potential methods to boost intellectual capabilities. This article explores the efficacy of different training interventions in improving intelligence, drawing on recent research findings.

Cognitive Training

Cognitive training, particularly working memory exercises, has been a focal point in the effort to enhance fluid intelligence (Gf). Fluid intelligence refers to the ability to reason and solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge. A meta-analysis has shown that training on demanding working memory tasks can lead to improvements in Gf, with the extent of gain being dosage-dependent. However, some studies argue that the evidence for such far transfer is limited, suggesting that the improvements may not be as significant as initially claimed.

Multi-Modal Training

Combining different types of training, such as fitness, cognitive exercises, and mindfulness meditation, has also been investigated. A comprehensive 4-month randomized controlled trial found that the combination of fitness and cognitive training produced gains in visuospatial reasoning, although these gains did not extend to novel tests of fluid intelligence administered post-intervention. This suggests that while multi-modal training can enhance certain cognitive skills, its impact on overall intelligence may be limited.

SMART Training

SMART (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training) is a novel behavior-analytic intervention aimed at raising general intelligence by training relational skills. Studies have shown significant improvements in IQ scores among participants who underwent SMART training compared to control groups . These findings support the efficacy of SMART training in enhancing intellectual skills, particularly in adolescents.

Emotional Intelligence Training

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, process, regulate, and utilize emotional information. Research has demonstrated that EI can be improved through targeted training programs. A controlled experimental study found significant increases in emotion identification and management abilities among participants who received EI training, with these changes persisting for at least six months. A meta-analysis further confirmed the effectiveness of EI training, highlighting its potential as a valuable intervention.

Music Training

Short-term music training has also been shown to enhance cognitive abilities. A study involving preschool children found that those who participated in a music training program exhibited significant improvements in verbal intelligence and executive function. These findings suggest that music training can have a positive impact on cognitive development, particularly in early childhood.

Personalized Training Programs

Recent advancements in brain imaging and behavioral research have paved the way for personalized training programs. Studies combining behavioral and brain data have shown positive effects on visuospatial processing and other cognitive domains. These findings indicate that personalized training programs, tailored to individual needs and capabilities, may offer a more effective approach to enhancing intelligence.



Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Louis Matzel has answered Uncertain

An expert from Rutgers University in Genetics, Psychology, Neuropsychology

This depends on what is meant by “training”. A whole industry has developed around the sale of “brain training exercises”, and most unbiased data suggests that these training regimens have marginal or no impact on “intelligence”, although they may have transient benefits on tests very similar to those that were used in training. Under some controlled laboratory conditions, various types of cognitive training can have beneficial effects on IQ, but even in these cases, the effects are small (and sometimes non-existent) and always appear to dissipate upon completion of training. However, this should NOT be taken to suggest that intelligence is not malleable. Overwhelming evidence exists that demonstrates large gains in IQ following adoption from an impoverished environment into a wealthy environment, and similarly, following immigration from an impoverished country to a wealthy country. (Notably, these are dramatic interventions relative to a few hours of “brain training”.) Unfortunately, these beneficial effects are greatest when the adoption/immigration occurs at a young age, and the effects diminish quickly as the individual ages (seeming to dissipate entirely as early as the age of 20).


Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Nachshon Meiran has answered Unlikely

An expert from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Intelligence

I am copying-pasting the relevant part from a previous answer of mine:

Regarding recent booming of video game/working-memory computerized training, some people express very optimistic views in high ranked journals. On the other hand, meta analytic reviews of the empirical literature indicate either tiny (Au et al., ~2014, PBR) or absent gains, in my my opinion, given what we know, it is unfair (or worse) to promise otherwise.


Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Vincenzo Varriale has answered Likely

An expert from Sapienza University of Rome in Intelligence, Psychometrics

I’m pasting my previous answer to a similar question.

If education, schooling and a rich environment are considered training (as it should be) the answer is probably yes. Findings generally support the observation that more time in school leads to greater intelligence. (i.e. Baltes, P. B., & Reinert, G. (1969). Cohort effects in cognitive development of children as revealed by cross-sectional sequences. Developmental Psychology, 1(2), 169) but the causal direction of the relationship education/intelligence is not so straightforward (i.e. Deary, I. J., & Johnson, W. (2010). Intelligence and education: causal perceptions drive analytic processes and therefore conclusions. International journal of epidemiology, 39(5), 1362-1369.).

However, fluid intelligence (g) encloses multiple cognitive abilities such as working memory, executive functions, insight, abstract reasoning, mental manipulation of stimuli, etc. Any serious training program aimed to improve such abilities should theoretically impact on the fluid intelligence level but the transfer of training effects to real-life situations and the stability of effects over time are yet to be cleared, though.


Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Hynek Cígler has answered Uncertain

An expert from Masaryk University in Psychology, Quantitative Psychology, Psychometrics, Intelligence

As an important part of intelligence is also the knowledge, which of course can be learned, yes, intelligence could be improved. Also the training in critical reasoning leads to better critical reasoning. On the other hand, there is a huge amount of research suggesting that intelligence is highly innate (however the hereditability is much lower), but it is highly dependent on education and raising in childhood. Thus the improvement is probably possible in childhood, but in adulthood the effect is rather small.


Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Davide Piffer has answered Unlikely

An expert from University of Tübingen in Intelligence

Several meta-analyses have shown that general intelligence cannot be boosted by training. It’s possible to boost only specific cognitive abilities that are similar to the trained task, via near-transfer effects.


Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Andreas Demetriou has answered Near Certain

An expert from University of Nicosia in Intelligence, Cognitive Science

Yes, once training focuses on the processes that are relevant at each developmental phase, such as executive control in preschool and inductive reasoning in primary school.


Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Carmen Flores-Mendoza has answered Unlikely

An expert from Federal University of Minas Gerais State in Intelligence

There is a certain consensus that intelligence is a very general mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. Unfortunately, several studies have indicated that we do not know yet how to manipulate the environment, through the training, to raise low IQs permanently. Boosting intelligence is still a matter of considerable scientific debate. If the reader is thinking about the role of education on intelligence, I recommend seeing a keynote video (available in Youtube) of the Professor Douglass Detterman (Funder of Intelligence journal):

Alternatively, read the paper: Detterman, D. (2016). Education and Intelligence: Pity the Poor Teacher because Student Characteristics are more Significant than Teachers or Schools. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 19, e93, 1–11 (available on internet).


Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?

Robert Sternberg has answered Likely

An expert from Cornell University in Education, Intelligence, Development Studies, Psychology

Education boosts intelligence, at least if it is done properly. Studies have been shown that more schooling is causally related to increases in intelligence. This makes sense, as schools–at least, reasonably good ones–exercise one’s mind and one’s brain. The best way to increase your intelligence is to use it in your everyday life–read books, write, learn new things–perhaps a second language or a musical instrument or how to do a new job. Brain games primarily increase your performance on brain games–they are not the best way to increase your intelligence.

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