Monday, June 16, 2008

A Closer Look At Fluid Intelligence

My recent post on 12 Hacks 6 Myths And Other Ways On Amping Your Brainpower, received a comment from Soak Your Head creator Erik Mork of Silver Bay Labs who said...
I think the significance of the Martin Buschkuehl research is that actual intelligence may be increased with daily training on dual-n-back. Which kind of sets it apart from the other approaches mentioned (12 Hacks that Will Amp...). Though, it does have some mutual benefits with them (for instance, working memory is generally increased with these types of training).

My wife and I have built an open source web application that implements the dual-n-back training. If you're curious to try. It's at: .

I'm not sure if keeping a blog make s you smarter, but it sure can't hurt ;) Thanks for this interesting post.

His point is definitely valid. My throwing the 12 hacks and 6 myths into the same post was for a more psych-lite article. Not that I am an expert, but I was leaning towards the "keeping busy and cognizant after they lock me out of the office at work" approach. As far as the viability of keeping a blog, it may not make me more intelligent but I am learning new things and keeping connected so hopefully it is doing some good. I did omit the section of the Wired article, intended perhaps to provide some balance, which cited:

David Geary, a professor at the University of Missouri and author of The Origin of Mind, who was not involved with the study, said training in one test generally doesn’t generate gains on a different test.

"Transfer is tough to get," Geary said. "Training in task A doesn’t typically improve performance on task B."

But in this case, subjects trained on a complex version of the so-called "n-back task" -- a difficult visual/auditory memory test -- improved their scores on a set of IQ questions drawn from a German intelligence measure called the Bochumer Matrizen-Test. (The Bochumer Matrizen-Test is a harder version of the
well known Ravens Progressive Matrices).

I am impressed with the site that Erik and is wife have created. I don't get the sense that either of them are trained in this scientific field, but their site is informative and seems well balanced. It also does not seem to be connected to any particular research facility. Which seems unfortunate as this appears to be a great opportunity to gather a good deal of "crowd-sourced" data, which is one potential motivation for running this post.

Another motivation is that I find the concept of fluid intelligence interesting from both the biological and cognitive perspective, and it gives me a reason to feature this article from TEDBlog on the amazing intelligence of crows: Joshua Klein on

Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he's come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human. (Recorded March 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 10:16.)

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