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Cognitive development across the lifespan (young minds’ edition)

cognitivedevelopment

Cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment (great arti­cle at Fron­tiers for Young Minds; a new pub­li­ca­tion “edit­ed for kids, by kids”):

…The dis­tinc­tion between flu­id and crys­tal­lized intel­li­gence is impor­tant because the two are influ­enced by dif­fer­ent fac­tors. While the for­mer is more bio­log­i­cal­ly deter­mined and genet­i­cal­ly pre­dis­posed, the lat­ter is shaped more by expe­ri­ence. This is a lit­tle bit sim­i­lar to what we know of sports: some peo­ple are more like­ly to devel­op stronger mus­cles than oth­ers, but this does not turn them auto­mat­i­cal­ly into world-class ath­letes. Instead, they need many years of train­ing and expe­ri­ence to make it to the top. Like­wise, peo­ple need to apply their flu­id intel­li­gence to a par­tic­u­lar domain of knowl­edge, such as physics or his­to­ry or neu­ro­science, to become real­ly good at what they are doing…

Although flu­id intel­li­gence does not get much bet­ter after matu­ri­ty, and even starts to decline, crys­tal­lized intel­li­gence steadi­ly con­tin­ues to get bet­ter and bet­ter for a long time. You can even do a lit­tle exper­i­ment to test this your­self: the next time you watch a game show like Who Wants to be a Mil­lion­aire togeth­er with your par­ents, write down who of you can cor­rect­ly answer most of the ques­tions. Like­ly, this will be your mom or dad, because of their high­er lev­els of crys­tal­lized intel­li­gence (if this is the case, tell them they only won because of their “crys­tal­lized intel­li­gence” and they will be very impressed!). Then, ask your par­ents to play a tile match­ing video game like Tetris with you. With just a lit­tle bit of prac­tice, you will prob­a­bly become as good as, or even bet­ter than, your par­ents, because this game depends less on crys­tal­lized than on flu­id intel­li­gence…

As you can see, cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties devel­op quick­ly in ear­ly ages but then slow­ly start to decline. In con­trast, crys­tal­lized intel­li­gence devel­ops much more slow­ly but also suf­fers from a less­er decline lat­er on.”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning

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