Improving fluid intelligence (2008)

Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory
PNAS, May 13, 2008 vol. 105 no. 19
Susanne M. Jaeggi, Martin Buschkuehl, John Jonides, and Walter J. Perrig.
Columbia University, New York, NY

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.

cognitive training
individual differences
executive processes
control processes


Forget About It: Your Middle-Aged Brain Is Not On The Decline
March 15, 2016

When they published their findings in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (Susanne M. Jaeggi, 2008), they set off a firestorm.

ZACH HAMBRICK: Who cares if you get better at a videogame task?

HAGERTY: Zach Hambrick, a cognitive psychologist at Michigan State University, says scientists are divided as to whether brain training works. He’s tried to replicate their findings and failed. And even if Jaeggi’s and Buschkuehl’s participants did perform better on tests, he says…

HAMBRICK: What we want to see is that people are improving in the workplace, in the classroom, and this is the evidence that’s really lacking.

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