Can You Improve Your IQ?

By Nik Kotlarov

We are often interested in assessing how good or bad we are at different things.  Intelligence is one of those that runs deep with people. Doing a basic internet search brings up a list of sites offering free testing.  Saying someone is ‘smart’ immediately jolts positive associations with that person.  Calling someone ‘stupid’… well, you get the point.  This makes us curious about ‘brain training’ and we might try to hide our intelligence, or at the very least try to look intelligent.

But what is intelligence?  Is it a stable part of who the person is, or can it be improved? And what does this mysterious ‘brain training’ entail?

For a long time, researchers worked on developing an agreed upon concept of ‘intelligence quotient’ (IQ), trying to decide what should and shouldn’t be included and how to measure it most accurately.  Today, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is the most popular measure used with adults.  Its origin dates back to WW-I and it is currently in its fourth edition to keep up with the changes in the understanding of how intelligence works.  Many will consider that somebody’s IQ is stable and unlikely to change in their lifetime… ‘brain training’ or not!

More recently… well, in the last couple of decades… a newer account of how humans think has been developed. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) is a “psychological account of human language and cognition… useful analysis of complex human behaviour…” (thank you, Eric Fox). This new understanding of human cognition has been applied to many areas of our lives, from dating to humour, and others.  Bryan Roche PhD from National University of Ireland Maynooth, together with his team used RFT to develop a tool they called SMART (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training).

Brian and his colleagues have been getting some very positive results.  If you are keen to get a sense of the kind of outcomes they are looking at, feel free to visit Psychology Today. And if you are like me and are not keen on reading loads of text, there’s a video and a bunch of pictures to make things fun. If this was fun, a simple internet search will reveal much, much more.  These guys are very generous with their research and you can even subscribe to their YouTube Channel called RYIQ.  It seems this is not only ‘brain training’ – it’s ‘highly precise brain training’ as the research shows.

Doing SMART training is easy (I’ve done it, so have my kids).  Anyone can sign up via a computer by visiting www.raiseyouriq.com.  At the beginning, your IQ is evaluated, so that when you finish, you can see your progress.  Unlike other training, RaiseYourIQ is developed by the experts in the field and in multiple scientific studies showed to raise intelligence (IQ).  The researchers looked at people with normal, high, or low IQs to see whether they could improve.  It seems like, regardless of your current abilities, you are likely to improve.  Interestingly, Brian and his team noticed that even a year after finishing their training, people continued to increase their IQ.  The researchers refer to it as “learning how to learn”.

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