General Question

_zen_'s avatar

Can you get any smarter?

Asked by _zen_ (7804 points ) May 27th, 2011

Does it matter how much you study after a certain age, or do puzzles and crosswords et al?

Can one actually add a few IQ points to their score, or are we stuck with what we got?

Does it matter?

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15 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Theoretically, humans have an infinite capacity for knowledge and learning.

IQ is kind of a sketchy measurement, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in gaining or losing points in that department based on anything you can actually do.

augustlan's avatar

I don’t know if you actually gain IQ points, but there is definitely a ‘use it or lose it’ theory. It’s a good idea to never stop learning new things, and doing puzzles of all different kinds can help keep your brain sharp as you age.

incendiary_dan's avatar

When I was in college the most recent studies seemed to imply you could increase your IQ. But as @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard said, it’s not really that accurate a measure of overall intelligence. Personally, I think you can increase your IQ, since I can point to certain times in my adult life in which learning about things like formal logic just really helped my reasoning skills to a great extent. That’s gotta count for something.

Nullo's avatar

Your mind will atrophy if you don’t exercise it regularly. Presumably, you could (with enough brain gym) increase overall performance.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

You can definitely do things to increase your IQ. That’s not the same as increasing your inherent intelligence potential. However, someone with an IQ of 100 who reads and thinks and works like crazy to become knowledgeable is going to come off as smarter than someone who has an IQ of 134 but never reads a book or Wikipedia or tries to gather knowledge. And IQ tests aren’t really that accurate (this is from 2 different people who administer the test).

Plucky's avatar

Yes, as long as you keep using your brain. IQ tests aren’t that accurate, so I wouldn’t go by them any ways.

Jeruba's avatar

It’s be nice, but I don’t think so. I just think I can learn more stuff but not, at this point, gain an ability to think better. I’m afraid I’ll have to be satisfied to hang onto a decent amount of what I’ve got.

downtide's avatar

I don’t think you can gain mind-power, but you can certainly prevent the loss of it as you get older.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I have found that I don’t think as quickly, but I can think a little deeper than before. All the time on the computer has altered by reading skills, but by analytical skills are better.

I make an effort to learn new things.

LostInParadise's avatar

In the words of Dylan Thomas, “Rage rage against they dying of the light.” There is so much to learn and so little time. I don’t care what the neuroscientists say. It seems to me that even if the number of neurons declines, it also matters how many connections there are between them, the analytical skills that @BarnacleBill refers to.

Cruiser's avatar

Yes! I am smarter each and everyday I log off Fluther! Seriously! At least one question a day will motivate me to do some research to find out WTF that Jelly was asking and then be able to possibly offer a reply. At ;least once a week I honestly will say I did not know that and now I do!

aprilsimnel's avatar

Carol Dweck would say yes. And it’s a matter of expectations. People who are oriented to believing that they have a set level of intelligence don’t learn any more, because they won’t take on new challenges, and when they do, failure means to them that they are “too dumb” to pull something off and are unwilling to keep trying.

People who have the mindset that there’s always something new to learn, that mistakes are a part of learning, and that really, there is no such thing as failure, will indeed learn more.

Coloma's avatar

The brain is a muscle, and like all muscles, it has memory. Use it or lose it! lol

everephebe's avatar

From Sir Ken, as always. From his book the Element:

“IQ tests can even be a matter of life and death. A criminal who commits a capital offense is not subject to the death penalty if his IQ is below seventy. However, IQ scores regularly rise over the course of a generation (by as much as twenty-five points), causing the scale to be reset every fifteen to twenty years to maintain a mean score of one hundred. Therefore, someone who commits a capital offense may be more likely to be put to death at the beginning of a cycle than at the end. That’s giving a single test an awful lot of responsibility.

People can also improve their scores through study and practice. I read a case recently about a death row inmate who’d at that point spent ten years in jail on a life sentence (he wasn’t the trigger man, but he’d been involved in a robbery where someone died). During his incarceration, he took a series of courses. When re-tested, his IQ had risen more than ten points – suddenly making him eligible for execution.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. Food plays an important role. Exercise plays an even more important role. We can increase our mental powers by exercising regularly increasing our blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. Other factors are exposure to novel stimuli and novel ways of thinking.

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