Can a person increase or improve intelligence or are there factors imposed by biology that constrains IQ or memory gains. Well, psychologists at NUIM University have shown with published research that IQ can indeed be raised (see Cassidy, Roche & Hayes, 2011) and that the IQ increases have a permanent effect (Roche, Cassidy &Stewart, 2013). Memory is also an essential part of the brains intellectual functioning and that this too can be improved (see Jaeggi et al., 2008). These studies and others into intelligence show that IQ scores can be improved and that an IQ test is merely a good starting point for kids or adults to commence a journey towards increasing intellectual skills for meaningful gains in all walks of life. So what does it take to increase intelligence and raise IQ? Well advice from Doctor Sarah Cassidy, an educational psychologist and a co-founder at RaiseYourIQ includes
Improve “relational skills”
Psychologists have discovered that there is a strong correlation between a person’s relational skills and IQ scores (O’Hora, Pelaez & Barnes-Holmes; 2005, O’Toole & Barnes-Holmes;2009, Cassidy, Roche & Hayes; 2011, Roche, Cassidy & Stewart; 2013). Crucially we now know that relational skills can be taught to any person. So improving your relational skills will in turn increase your IQ score. So what are Relational skills?, they are the understanding of a handful of mathematical relationships between concepts or objects such as things are the same as other things, more or less than other things, opposite to other things, and so on. They also include relationships like before and after or that one thing is contained by another. Moreover, having a strong handle on the relationships between and among other things has been shown to enhance thinking and problem solving skills. In fact, these relational skills are now being called the building blocks of intelligence by psychologists in the field of Relational Frame Theory.
Language helps with cognitive tasks
A language rich environment will increase a person’s intellectual acumen. In fact for anyone who does not come from a language or word rich environment, they can read widely to increase vocabulary and make up for that “learning deficit” in their natural environment. Research into brain health indicates that having a strong understanding of language and words will help with cognitive tasks and everyday life. Increasing vocabulary by reading will increase the understanding of language in a more general sense. Also, people should keep a dictionary. When coming across words that not familiar, look them up!
Eat healthy and exercise regularly
Some of life’s facts always hold true, like exercise and eating right is good for body and mind. This is not an old wife’s tale; this advice is supported by scientific research. There is an ever growing body of evidence suggesting that people who have healthy diets and those that engage in regular vigorous exercise have higher IQ scores and better memories. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have recently published that physical activity is highly beneficial for brain health and cognition (2013). There are also many specific foods that play a role in having a healthy diet and will in turn raise IQ. For example, scientists know that vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, some berries and the omega 3 oils found in oily fish improve memory and overall brain functioning (Roche, 2014) as do green teas and protein in general. Protein contains high levels of amino acids, such as tyrosine, which in turn causes neurons to produce the very important neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which are associated with mental alertness. (See, Roche, 2014 for more). Diet and exercise are not just important for the health of your body. They are also vital for the health of your brain.
Learn from experts
When we need to find the answers to questions and deeper understanding of topics, take the time to ask the experts whether this is online, in school, in forums or face to face. Always check that the experts you are asking are actually qualified, informed and knowledgeable sources. There is a great deal of information out there that is simply incorrect, so always look for scientific evidence backing up any “facts”.
Have a learning mind-set
It is a relatively recent discovery that a person’s mind-set matters not just on an emotional level, but also on a physiological level. We should believe that bye learning more knowledge will enhance our performance in any intellectual setting. Persisting with tasks and learning even when they are difficult will help anyone get to the finish line.
Do brain training
These are not the gimmicky brain games from pseudo-scientists and gaming companies, there are Brain Training programs online that have been shown in published scientific research to improve working memory (e.g., the n-back procedure) and to raise intelligence/IQ (e.g., relational skills training).
Learn new things
Research shows that people can increase the brain’s functioning by pushing to learn new things that are outside of their current skill set. Why not learn to play music, to dance or try out a new language. The important thing here is that people will be exercising their brains in a new way and thus expanding the brain’s neural networks. Keeping the brain fit and active is equally important for a child or adult as it is for someone entering their senior years.
Relational Frame Training Ltd. is a Maynooth University Ireland, Spinout Company
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Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland