How these are linked together
“Fluid intelligence along with its counterpart, crystallized intelligence, are both factors of what Cattell referred to as general intelligence,” writes author and educational consultant Kendra Cherry. She explains that both types of intelligence are intertwined and enables us to face and overcome challenges on a daily basis. Kendra adds “Fluid and crystallized intelligence are intertwined. Crystallized intelligence is formed through the investment of fluid intelligence when information is learned.”
When we use fluid intelligence to use logic and analyze different problems, the information gets stored in our long-term memory which eventually transforms into our crystallized intelligence. “Fluid intelligence is often used when learning new things. When you encounter a new subject, you use your fluid intelligence to understand the material through logical and analysis. Once you understand the material, the information will be incorporated into your long-term memory, where it can develop into crystallized knowledge,” adds Dr. Vinney.
Can we improve fluid intelligence?
Although it was previously believed that fluid intelligence is something that is usually fixed, recent studies have revealed that cognitive training or brain training can help us to increase fluid intelligence in different ways, even in adults of a certain age, says Kendra Cherry. She adds “an analysis of previous studies published in 2014 found that it is possible to improve fluid intelligence with brain training.” We can improve fluid intelligence with training on working memory, which “is a form of short-term memory centered on what you are currently thinking about.”
Dr. Cynthia Vinney explains “Several studies have investigated whether it is possible to improve fluid intelligence.” One of the most prominent research is the 2008 study with working memory which found that fluid intelligence in participants improved after training on working memory. “Their study concluded that fluid intelligence can, in fact, improve through training,” she adds.
How you can improve fluid intelligence
Fluid intelligence is trainable. Lachlan Brown, founder of Hack Spirit explains “Psychologists think that fluid intelligence is handled by the parts of the brain like the anterior cingulate cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for attention short-term memory.” So while crystallized intelligence can be enhanced by acquiring new skills and experiences, there are ways to improve fluid intelligence as well.
In an article in the Scientific American, behavior therapist Andrea Kuszewski outlines the following 5 ways to maximize your fluid intelligence:
1. Seek new things
Smart people tend to constantly look for new experiences and learn new skills to expand their knowledge. On the contrary, when we follow a routine on a daily basis, our mind goes into an auto-pilot mode which restricts our chances or learning anything new. However, when you actively do and learn new things, your mind expands. Seeking novelty helps us create “new synaptic connections with every new activity you engage in,” explains Andrea Kuszewski. She adds “These connections build on each other, increasing your neural activity, creating more connections to build on other connections – learning is taking place.”
Moreover, new experiences release dopamine which stimulates neurogenesis, makes you feel motivated and enables our brain to learn new things. Moreover, novelty also helps in increasing synaptic plasticity. All you have to do is constantly pursue new adventures. Kuszewski adds “Always look to new activities to engage your mind – expand your cognitive horizons. Learn an instrument. Take an art class. Go to a museum. Read about a new area of science. Be a knowledge junkie.”
2. Face more challenges
Like we challenge our muscles at the gym for it to grow, we need to challenge our brain for necessary improvements. When we learn to challenge our brains continually, the brain learns to function at an increasingly higher degree. According to Kuszewski, a 2007 study analyzed participants while they played the video game Tetris, which was a novel experience for them. After playing the game for several weeks, it was found that the participants had increased cortical thickness and better cortical activity simply by playing the new game Tetris.
Kuszewski writes “Basically, the brain used more energy during those training times, and bulked up in thickness – which means more neural connections, or new learned expertise – after this intense training.”