Think smarter to get smarter

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.