Our ability to think ourselves to a higher IQ is all part of
the "plastic brain" concept
First the good news. Intelligence is not fixed. It's a malleable,
changeable thing that can be improved with the right stimuli. Kinda
like doing weights at the gym to grow your muscles.
Now the even better news. It seems that even just knowing
about this can actually make you smarter. Sounds like a lofty claim,
right? So what's the science behind this?
In studies carried out on seventh grade students in the US by Blackwell,
Dweck and Trzesniewski (2002), students who were given the
message that intelligence levels are not fixed and can be improved
actually showed a measurable increase in their own academic
performance. In comparison, students in a control group who were not
given the message of intelligence's malleability showed no improvement
in their subsequent academic performance.
Our ability to think ourselves to a higher IQ is all part of the
"plastic brain" concept. This is the name given by
neuroscientists to the brain's tendency to constantly rewire and
reconfigure itself throughout our lives according to external stimuli.
The plastic brain idea is relatively new in scientific circles. For
most of the 20th century, the general consensus among neuroscientists
was that the brain (and therefore intelligence) was more or less fixed
and unchangeable after childhood development. So the studies carried
out in the last decade that seem to suggest otherwise play havoc with
the idea that we all have a fixed IQ score (which is usually measured
during school-age years). In fact, there are recent
studies which indicate a person's IQ can fluctuate dramatically
just during adolescence.
The brain's ability to adapt is great news for everyone, but
especially for students. Simply by doing a bit of research on the
subject of changeable intelligence levels could be that secret
ingredient that gets you over the line ahead of your classmates who
believe their IQ is set in concrete.