How to think yourself smart

How it Works explores the possibility of taking your IQ into your own hands and improving it

Image source: Pixabay

Staring down at the Sunday newspaper crossword, unable to work out nine down, you might be left questioning your intelligence and wondering if there’s a way to sharpen your know-how. In recent years digital stores have been flooded with a host of different ‘brain-training’ apps all promising to help us think ourselves smart, but is that really possible?

Firstly, what exactly is intelligence? Is it something that we solely obtain from school, through our years of life experience, or perhaps a combination of the two? The concept of human intelligence is one that has been debated and researched for more than a century, with no clear answers.

However, what scientists have managed to agree upon is that it can be divided into two categories. The first is known as crystalline or crystallised intelligence. This refers to the intelligence that you might find useful in a pub quiz and centres on an acquired knowledge of the world. The second type, fluid intelligence, is the built-in smarts to problem solve and make decisions. Fluid intelligence is what is measured when taking an intelligence quotient (IQ) test.

So can we think ourselves smart? Cognitive training involves activities and tasks that are designed to help improve our intelligence or stall the inevitable decline of cognitive functions as we age.

This article was originally published in How It Works issue 139

For more science and technology articles, pick up the latest copy of How It Works from all good retailers or from our website now. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today