There seems to be no one agreed definition of what intelligence is, never mind what an intelligent person looks like. Some people think of intelligence in terms of logical and reasoning skills while others refer to creativity and flexibility and what the society most values at the time. And of course, humans’ values constantly change over time.

In seeking a path to improve our intelligence, we need to, at least, first understand what common qualities most people look for when talking about overall intelligence.

What is intelligence?

Definitions of intelligence may vary over time, however, according to a well-known theory proposed by the psychologist Raymond Cattell, general intelligence refers to both fluid intelligence (Gf) and crystallised intelligence (Gc).

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason when we handle new information without depending on our prior knowledge or experience.

Crystallised intelligence, on the other hand, is the accumulation of knowledge acquired from learning and past experience.

These two types of intelligence are inversely correlated. Our fluid intelligence decreases as our crystallised intelligence declines over time. However, we still can improve them simultaneously with the right mindset and methods.

How to increase fluid intelligence?

Mozart was an example of a child prodigy who began composing music by the age of 4.  Albert Einstein published his groundbreaking theory of relativity by the age of 26. Previously, scientists have believed that one’s fluid intelligence peaks quite early in life.

Still, new research suggests that fluid intelligence could actually peak as late as the age of 40. A key factor that greatly contributes to sustaining your intelligence is brain training.

To be able to tackle new problems in new situations, we need a good memory, logical thinking, reasoning skills, problem-solving skills and even abstract thinking. People with high fluid intelligence are normally good at recognising patterns and understanding visual information.

These skills can be enhanced with mathematical puzzles, logic games or memory games.

Another key to uphold our fluid intelligence is engaging in tasks that require creativity. It might sound cliché, but the ability to think outside the box is still considered essential for overall intelligence at any age.

With brain training and creativity practicing, new connections between neural cells are formed. Existing connections also become stronger. The brain learns to adapt and reorganise itself. This is known as neuroplasticity. The more our brain encounters new challenges, the more flexible it will be.

Tips from Gamma: Try doodling books or building block puzzles for adults. If you seek something more challenging and creative, consider learning to cook new recipes with exotic ingredients or drawing maps of your local areas.

How to increase crystallised intelligence?

Crystallised intelligence is reflected in our lifetime knowledge and can definitely be improved through learning.

This type of intelligence is often seen in verbal tasks, including reading comprehension, vocabulary knowledge and generalised knowledge. People with high crystallised intelligence are good at memorising facts, important dates and events.

However, in order to stay on top of your learning and rise to the challenge in everyday situations, you need not only a deep understanding of the subject, but also a good memory and well-developed thinking skills.

Find the memory and learning techniques that you’re happy with and know that they certainly help accelerate your learning process.

The more knowledge we acquire, the more our crystallised intelligence develops. A rule of thumb when it comes to developing our crystallised intelligence is deep understanding. Whether learning a new subject or acquiring a new skill, make sure you really understand and make sense of – not just memorise – the information.

Tips from Gamma: Practice your ability to deeply focus on a single subject at a time to optimise your learning brain. This also means choosing single-tasking over multi-tasking.

Can we kill two birds with one stone?

Both types of intelligence may display different sets of abilities. But they can and often do work well together. It’s not likely that while one type of intelligence is required to perform a task, the other one sits back and just watches. In many instances, both of them are needed simultaneously or successively.

When we use our fluid intelligence to reason problems successfully, if the information is deemed important to us, the brain then transfers it from working-memory to long-term memory for future use. In this fashion, our fluid intelligence becomes part of our crystallised intelligence.

Take cooking as an example. When we cook or bake, the ability to correctly follow the recipes is important, so is our creativity. We may have to think about a choice of veg or fruit to include or substitute, the colours of the cake topping, the shapes of the biscuits. The list goes on.

We may enjoy exercising our fluid intelligence through recipe modification. However, we also need crystallised intelligence to execute the recipes and successfully deliver it.

Another example is when we read a fiction. A decent vocabulary knowledge and understanding of certain grammar rules are required in order to comprehend the texts. That’s the use of crystallised intelligence.

However, fluid intelligence also takes part when we predict what comes next, what could be alternative solutions or alternative endings to the story.

So, can we kill two birds with one stone? The answer is clear. No matter at what age, both types of intelligence are equally essential to us and need looking after.

To sum up

Intelligence may mean different things to different people but improving overall intelligence is essential to all of us. We shouldn’t focus on the brain’s performance in one or two key areas and ignore the rest. Both types of intelligence can be incorporated in our daily activities with ease. Just make sure they’re well balanced.

All in all, intelligence will not improve if we stick to the same routines. So, the key is regularly welcoming new challenges to our life.

Intelligence will not improve if we don’t welcome challenges in life.

– Gamma High IQ Society

Our intelligence is dimensional and unique. The two types are different but they often work together. So, no matter what age we are, never stop learning something new.

All rights reserved. Used by Permission of Gamma High IQ Society and Superbrain Code.

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