Intelligence enhancement from Wired

The latest issue of Wired is dedicated to intelligence enhancement – and it’s filled with interesting articles and tips.

Wired: Get Smarter issue.

Here’s a taste:

Fluid intelligence was previously thought to be genetically hard-wired, but the finding suggests that with about 25 minutes of rigorous mental training a day, healthy adults could improve their mental capacities.


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).

Initially, the test subjects scored an average of 10 questions correctly on the IQ test.

But after the group trained on the n-back task for 25 minutes a day for 19 days, they averaged 14.7 correct answers, an increase of more than 40 percent. (A control group that was not trained showed only a very slight performance increase.)

Buschkuehl’s team postulates that the n-back task improves working memory — how many pieces of information subjects can keep in their head — as well as the ability to control the brain’s attention. Fluid intelligence tests require those types of thinking, and the training improved performance in these underlying skills.

Full Story: Wired

However, they note elsewhere that Brain Age hasn’t been proved to make you smarter.


  1. My favorite part was the revelation on speed reading:

    “The motor response of the retina, and the time it takes the image of a word to travel to the visual cortex for processing, limits the eye to about 500 words per minute. (That’s peak efficiency; the average college student can expect half that.)”

    I wrote that down immediately, still trying to verify if that’s true…if so, a pretty invaluable peek the human sensory system.

  2. For anyone interested, I’ve packaged the fluid intelligence training used by the researchers from Michigan and Bern as a software program. It’s available for download for a nominal fee:

    Martin Walker

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