People are always seeking ways to improve themselves. It is why the self-improvement industry is estimated to grow to $13.2 billion by 2022. Learning how to increase one’s IQ or intelligence quotient, is one such improvement people want to undertake.
What is an Intelligent Quotient (IQ)?
Psychologists have created standardized tests in order to measure one’s intellectual potential or to determine if there is a learning disability. The person being evaluated is given a test or several tests, and the sum score from these test(s) is their IQ.
Types of Intelligence
Psychologists Raymond Cattell and John Horn theorized that there are two types of intelligence: fluid and crystallized intelligence.
What is Fluid Intelligence?
Fluid intelligence allows one to use logic and problem-solve in new situations without using past knowledge. Fluid intelligence declines with age.
Examples of Fluid Intelligence
- Able to answer riddles
- Able to solve puzzles
- Identify patterns
What is Crystallized Intelligence?
Able to use knowledge acquired through education and experience. Crystallized intelligence is maintained or increases with age.
Examples of Crystallized Intelligence
- Knowing who the 29th President of the United States
- Knowing a synonym and antonym of the word “expunge”
- Knowing which NBA team won the 2019 championship
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Instead of viewing intellect as governed by a single intelligence, Howard Gardner proposed multiple intellectual capacities:
- Musical – discern sounds, pitch, timber, tone, rhythm
- Spatial – visualize space and distance
- Verbal – able to express in words what you mean
- Logical – able to think with logic and reason
- Interpersonal – able to sense others’ feelings and motives
- Intrapersonal – have self-awareness; able to introspect
- Kinesthetics – can use the body effectively to move from intention to action
- Naturalistic – able to understand and read nature
- Existential – tackle deep human existence questions
How is your IQ Calculated?
IQ testing is typically administered by a psychologist. There are different IQ tests, such as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, which calculates five factors: knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing, working memory, and fluid reasoning.
Other Intelligence Measurements
- Raven’s Progressive Matrices
- Cattell Culture Fair III
- Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales
- Thurstone’s Primary Mental Abilities
- Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test
- Multidimensional Aptitude Battery II
- Das–Naglieri cognitive assessment system
- Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test
There are also popular online IQ tests that let anyone check their IQ quickly, even if they’re less accurate than a psychologist-administered tests.
Is it Possible to Increase your IQ?
Many studies have proven that intelligence is malleable. With training, the brain can change, which was the result in this study. Researchers from University of Pittsburgh analyzed what happened in the brain as learners transitioned from novice to experts. They found that with long-term learning, new neural activity patterns developed.
There is also this study by Dr. Jaeggi and her colleagues. The participants performed working-memory training over a number of days. These individuals were then tested using standardized fluid intelligence tests – solving visual analogy problems. What they found was an improvement in fluid intelligence, even though the trained task was completely different from the intelligence test itself.
Most Popular Way to Boost Your IQ
There are many ways you can raise your IQ. One of the common methods is acquiring a new skill, however, you’d be surprised at other intelligence improvements that don’t require learning. The following methods are all scientifically proven to help boost your IQ and improve brain function.
Master a New Skill
Let’s look at the most popular method to boost your intelligence. You already know that learning anything new can help raise your cognitive abilities. Whether you take an online course or watch YouTube tutorials, learning a new skill changes the brain to develop new learned behaviors.
“Neurons that fire together wire together.”
The above is a well-known quote in the world of neuroscience. It means that the more you run a neural-circuit in the brain, the stronger that circuit develops. When acquiring a new skill new neural activity patterns emerge with long-term learning.
How to Increase Your IQ – 9 Proven Methods
1. Learn a Language
Learning a new language is one way to learn a new skillset and improve your IQ. Studying new words and grammar makes you use the language center of your brain and creates new connections.
Knowing a second language also improves the ability to pay attention. According to Dr. Bak’s study bilinguals outperform monolinguals in attention tests. The study also showed that bilinguals were more successful at focusing on relevant information – a measure of concentration.
Having a second language or being a multilingual have other benefits. When you’re in a foreign country and are well-versed in its language, you’re more efficient as a traveller, and have the ability to navigate with more ease than those who aren’t fluent.
2. Learn How to Play an Instrument
Another great skill to learn is playing an instrument. Musicians have been proven to have a better working memory than non-musicians. Since memory is so important for IQ, boosting it will help your intelligence.
Learning music also improves verbal intelligence. Dr. Moreno and his colleagues studied the effect of 20 days of music-based cognitive training cartoons on pre-schoolers.
The study divided the children into two groups – one received music-based cognitive training and the other visual art training.
After training, the children were assessed for spatial and verbal intelligence using the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (3rd edition). The verbal IQ tests measured word recall, attention, and ability to analyze information and solve problems using language-based reasoning.
The results were remarkable – 90% of the children who received the music training showed intelligence improvements in vocabulary, increased accuracy and reaction time. The improvements were five times larger than the children who received visual art training.
“These results are dramatic not only because they clearly connect cognitive improvement to musical training, but also because the improvements in language and attention are found in completely different domains than the one used for training. This has enormous implications for development and education,”Dr. Bialystok
Most people know that meditation helps to alleviate stress. But can it improve cognitive function? It does. Let’s look at a few studies that confirm that when you meditate, you also raise your intelligence.
Dr. Siegfried Othmer, a leader in brainwave training (a type of meditation) and neurofeedback, has done studies on the effect of meditation, which led him to conclude that on average, individuals gained 23% in IQ.
Meditation has been shown to improve brain function. It not only reduces stress, but it can improve your deep cognitive functioning. MRI scans have also shown that the parts of the brain involved in paying attention have more activity in people who meditate.
4. Play a Game
Playing Video Games and IQ
Did you know that playing video games can increase one’s IQ? This study done at York University discovered a correlation between excelling at playing video games and high levels of intelligence. But it all depends on the type of game.
The link between strategizing in video games such as League of Legends and Defence of the Ancients 2 and higher IQ is similar to the correlation in other strategy games such as chess. Playing these types of games is activating fluid intelligence.
Performing well at playing video games or any game that is intellectually challenging and complex can have a positive influence on intelligence.
Play Games that Develop Your Skills
Some games can help with your brain’s reasoning. You can work on visuospatial reasoning with things like mazes, point of view games, and 3-D models. Brainteasers, Scrabble, and Pictionary can all work on executive function, which controls complex cognitive abilities.
By working on these aspects of your brain’s functions, you can boost your intelligence. By seeking out brain exercising games, you can give your mind a workout that helps train your brain to work harder. Some games like Tetris have even been proven to help with symptoms of trauma.
5. Keep a Journal
Journaling is an excellent way to use your brain. This study shows a link between journal writing and a higher IQ.
Not only do you record your thoughts and make a record of your life, but you get to practice writing, refining ideas, and learning new words and idioms.
Many great geniuses keep journals or wrote often. The practice of expressing your ideas can improve your ability to communicate. Getting your children started early not only helps them express themselves, but it can help them learn how to process their emotions and thoughts.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for your intelligence. Even an hour of lost sleep can reduce your IQ by a point and it will only get worse with more lost sleep according to Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at University of British Columbia.
Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom’s research on sleep in adolescents confirms that insufficient sleep leads to problems in attention, general cognitive functioning and academic performance.
Losing sleep also increases stress and can cause other serious health effects. So be sure to get plenty of rest. Sleep is more important for children and the elderly. They need more sleep than adults. Teenagers need even more thanks to all the growth their bodies and brains are going through.
7. Get Some Exercise
An active lifestyle has been proven to help brain function. Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to raise your verbal intelligence. Keeping active can also help with brain function as you age. You can also do exercise specifically to help you learn.
Moving can help children learn, and using an exercise ball instead of a chair may not only keep desk workers healthier, but it may improve cognition. Weightlifting isn’t as good for brain function, but any exercise is better than none. Just stick with a moderate activity for your current activity and fitness level.
8. Read More
Reading helps with intelligence in many ways. You can read to learn new skills, or just for pleasure. Not only does it reduce stress, but using your mind to either learn or just visiting new worlds in fiction helps develop your intelligence. Seek out a wide variety of reading material to expand your horizons. Reading to children can also set them up for a higher IQ as an adult and better school performance.
It’s also a great bonding activity. If you don’t have time to read or have a long commute, audiobooks are a great option. Listening to audiobooks or an educational podcast can help teach you new things and keep your brain active.
9. Watch Your Health
A healthy body is needed to support a healthy brain. A healthier brain is a brain that performs better. Not only should you get exercise and reduce stress, but you should watch your diet and eat healthy, nutritious food. Your brain needs a lot of calories to work, so eating well can support your intelligence. Eating a healthy breakfast can help with this.
Try to avoid too many simple sugars, since they can make you sluggish due to the rush of insulin into your system to deal with all the glucose. Simple sugars include candy, as well as pasta and bread. Small amounts are fine, but just be aware of what you’re eating when you’ll need to use your brain the most like at work or school.
A good diet is also important for growing brains. Children need a lot of nutrients. Just remember that children have different needs to keep their growing bodies and brains healthy.
While many things help boost your IQ, some things won’t. Most multivitamins haven’t been proven to help nor does trying to train for IQ tests. While there are many myths out there about intelligence, neuroscience has proven the above tips can actually help. Stick with the research, and you’ll be healthier and smarter.