Friday, November 05, 2004

Adult Intelligence

I'll need to look into this more, because in my last class we did have some required reading that did show that intelligence could be improved in later years through effort. Not just knowledge, but the ability to manipulate it. I do know that physiologically myelination does not stop until about the 70s.

From Papalia, D. E., Olds, S. W., & Feldman, R. D. (2004). "Physical and Cognitive Development in Late Adulthood." Human Development - Ninth Edition (pp. 459). New York: McGraw-Hill.

"Does intelligence diminish in late adulthood? The answer depends on what abilities are being measured, and how. Some abilities, such as speed of mental processes and abstract reasoning *may* decline in later years, but aspects of practical and integrative thinking tends to improve throughout most of adult life (Sternbreg, Grigorenko, & Oh,2001). And although changes in processing abilities may reflect neurological deterioration, there is much individual variation, suggesting that declines in functioning are not inevitable and may be preventable."

"Measuring older adults' intelligence is complicated. A number of physical and and psychological factors may lower their test scores and lead to an underestimation of their intelligence." - as measured by the WAIS. The next few paragraphs explain why the WAIS does not give accurate results for older adults. One of the reasons being a lack of interest and motivation. Others are higher amount of test anxiety, poor vision, high blood pressure, etc.

Apparently many gerontologist are now using the dual-process model of intelligence. They break processes down into crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence. Fluid Intelligence is the ability to solve novel problems that require little or no previous knowledge. Example: seeing a pattern in asequence of numbers. Crystallized Intelligence is the ability to remember and use information acquired over a lifetime. Example: finding a synonym for a word.

You might say that the first one is intelligence and the second is knowledge, but you would be inaccurate in your definitions. Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use and integrate the knowledge one already has. One can study and add to it, but if they don't know how to use it, it does not raise their crystallized intelligence.

The fluid does decline for most, but the crystallized continues to improve. The Seattle Longitudinal Study does show that some fluid abilities last until late middle age. Unfortunately, I will have to find the study to see which ones, because my text didn't list them.

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