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Does intelligence really decrease with aging?

Editorial Team
18/11/2019 3:43 PM

Intelligence can be defined as
the competency for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional
knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
It is also simply the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.
Everyone does have a certain level of intelligence, but does it decrease as you
grow, or do you acquire more in the process.

There are nine types of intelligence
which are logical-mathematical, linguistics, naturalist, interpersonal, intra-personal, spacial, existential,
bodily-kinaesthetic and musical

In the 1960s, Raymond Cattal
divided intelligence into two kinds; Fluid
and crystallized
. Fluid intelligence
is the knowledge acquired by reasoning and solving problems in a novelty way. Both types of intelligence increase throughout childhood and adolescence.
Some of the features of fluid intelligence peak
in adolescence and begin to decline progressively
beginning around age 30
or 40. Examples of fluid intelligence include solving puzzles, identifying
patterns, etc.

A study by Jaeggi, Buschkuehl,
Jonides, and Perrig, published in 2018, Improving Fluid Intelligence with Training on Working Memory, proved
that intelligence can be increased to a significant degree through training.


is the knowledge acquire through experience and education. While fluid
intelligence decrease with aging, crystallized intelligence continues to grow
throughout adulthood. Examples of crystallized intelligence include knowing the
DNA system, degrees at which water boils and many more. Crystallized intelligence can, therefore, be measured through
vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension and other similar tests, as well as
quizzes, game shows and trivia games

New researches has shown that not
all aspects of intelligence age in the same way, and while some peak during
high school and college, others continue to improve after 40.

To investigate how intelligence
changes with age, psychologists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) and the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US ( 2015) tested 48,537
people between the ages of ten to eighty-nine who had visited the sites
GamesWithWords.org and TestMyBrain.org, where they conducted language, IQ and
memory tests that measured their emotion-recognition, working memory, number
skills, and vocabulary.

Joshua Hartshorne and Laura
Germine presented evidence from 48, 537 people from standardized IQ and memory
tests. The results revealed that processing speed and short-term memory for
family pictures and stories peak and begin to decline around high school
graduation; some visual-spatial and abstract reasoning abilities plateau in
early adulthood, beginning to decline in the 30s; and still other cognitive
functions such as vocabulary and general information do not peak until people
reach their 40s or later

They found that, depending on
your definition of intelligence, the skills peak at very different times
throughout your life. While young participants mostly did the best on the
number-to-symbol coding tasks, with a peak age of around 19 to 20 years old,
working memory peaked between the mid-20s and mid-30s, before starting to
slowly decline. And while 20-somethings were really good at recognizing
someone's emotions from simply looking at a photo of their eyes, this ability
kept improving all the way up until the age of 48, after which the skill
dropped very, very slowly. Vocabulary just kept getting better with age,
finally peaking in the 60s or 70s, without any obvious sign of decline.

Therefore, from the researches
above , intelligence does not decline but partly decrease with age while part of
it increases with age

 A few things you can implement in your day to day
lives that will help you train and improve your fluid intelligence are trying
to learn from others, seeking out new challenges, reading widely and tacking
new problems with new strategies.

  1. https://www.sciencealert.com/
  2. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/
  3. https://blog.mindvalley.com/

Keithley Tongai is a
Consultant intern at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business
management and human resources consulting firm.

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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