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. 2008 May 13;105(19):6829-33.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801268105. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Improving Fluid Intelligence With Training on Working Memory

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Free PMC article

Improving Fluid Intelligence With Training on Working Memory

Susanne M Jaeggi et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Fluid intelligence (Gf) refers to the ability to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge. Gf is critical for a wide variety of cognitive tasks, and it is considered one of the most important factors in learning. Moreover, Gf is closely related to professional and educational success, especially in complex and demanding environments. Although performance on tests of Gf can be improved through direct practice on the tests themselves, there is no evidence that training on any other regimen yields increased Gf in adults. Furthermore, there is a long history of research into cognitive training showing that, although performance on trained tasks can increase dramatically, transfer of this learning to other tasks remains poor. Here, we present evidence for transfer from training on a demanding working memory task to measures of Gf. This transfer results even though the trained task is entirely different from the intelligence test itself. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent of gain in intelligence critically depends on the amount of training: the more training, the more improvement in Gf. That is, the training effect is dosage-dependent. Thus, in contrast to many previous studies, we conclude that it is possible to improve Gf without practicing the testing tasks themselves, opening a wide range of applications.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
The n-back task that was used as the training task, illustrated for a 2-back condition. The letters were presented auditorily at the same rate as the spatial material was presented visually.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Performance increase in the trained task shown separately for each training group. For each session, the mean level of n achieved by the participants is presented. The level of n depends on the participants' performance.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Transfer effects. (a) Mean values and corresponding standard errors of the fluid intelligence test scores for the control and the trained groups, collapsed over training time. (b) The gain scores (posttest minus pretest scores) of the intelligence improvement plotted for training group as a function of training time. Error bars represent standard errors.

Comment in

  • Increasing fluid intelligence is possible after all.
    Sternberg RJ. Sternberg RJ. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 May 13;105(19):6791-2. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803396105. Epub 2008 May 12. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008. PMID: 18474863 Free PMC article. No abstract available.

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