NYT – Can You Make Yourself Smarter?

The headline “Can You Make Yourself Smarter?” caught my attention in the New York Times. The article describes a game “N back” that can be used to train working memory. Working memory is “the capacity to manipulate the information you’re holding in your head”. Researcher Torkel Klingberg found a relationship between working memory and IQ test results. Consequently, IQ is not fixed but could be improved by training.

I never took an IQ test myself and have only limited knowledge on how these tests work. However, I believe that it is possible to train for pretty much any test. Therefore, I do not find these results very surprising. Nevertheless, I find the connection between working memory and IQ very interesting.

Sidenote: The article contains an info box explaining typical ranges of IQ test results. It says: “132+ 2 percent; borderline genius; average I.Q. of most Ph.D. recipients” and “143+ 1 percent; genius level; about average for Ph.D.’s in physics.” Does this mean that the average physics PhD recipient is a genius? I expect a bit more from a “true” genius. What makes physics PhDs special?