A new study has found that it may be possible to train people to be more intelligent, increasing the brainpower they had at birth.
Until now, it had been widely assumed that the kind of mental ability that allows us to solve new problems without having any relevant previous experience -- what psychologists call fluid intelligence -- is innate and cannot be taught (though people can raise their grades on tests of it by practicing).
But in the new study, researchers describe a method for improving this skill, along with experiments to prove it works.
The key, researchers found, was carefully structured training in working memory -- the kind that allows memorization of a telephone number just long enough to dial it. This type of memory is closely related to fluid intelligence, according to background information in the article, and appears to rely on the same brain circuitry. So the researchers reasoned that improving it might lead to improvements in fluid intelligence.