This can seem like a difficult question to answer, for most of us the first place we turn with a question like this is to Google. In this case the trouble is you seem to get conflicting advice; there are plenty of products advertised as 'Brain Trainers' claiming they can do just that, but you can also find articles, and websites stating that your IQ is fixed, either by your genetics from the outset or certainly by the time your reach adulthood.

Hopefully I can clarify the situation a little;

Firstly, there's a good reason that lots of reliable sources say that it is impossible to increase your IQ. This was the widely held view in the academic community for virtually the entire of the last century. It was believed that the majority of your intelligence was hereditary, and that although you could influence it during childhood through a stimulating environment, by the time you reached your early twenties it was locked into place.

Now for the good news, research from the last two decades has shown this view was incorrect. There have been a number of high quality studies that have shown various techniques can be used to give real, lasting and transferable increases in intelligence.

I'll come back to some of this pioneering research shortly, but before I do I want to have a quick word about 'Brain Training'.

Just because a particular product, exercise or game is advertised as being 'good for the brain' doesn't mean it actually gives an improvement in any real cognitive abilities. In fact this is just what the research shows, the vast majority of 'Brain Training' products and software do not give any transferrable benefit. Or put another way the only thing that playing most brain training games does is improve your ability to play that specific game.

So if these games don't improve your intelligence what does? To answer this we have to go back to the research. The first key breakthrough came with the understanding of neuroplasticity. This is the human brain natural ability to reconfigure itself depending on the demands placed upon it. Crucially this happens continually throughout your life. This ability was noticed when researchers uncovered patients who had suffered severe brain injuries had to rediscover lost abilities as different parts of the brain took over the functions from the damaged areas.

This is all very well in theory, but what about some specifics?

In 2008, Suzanne Jaeggi, a researcher from the University of Michigan, published a paper which showed participants who had been doing daily sessions of an exercises known as the Dual N-Back technique showed transferrable, dose-dependant increases in fluid intelligence. In this case dose-dependant just indicates that the more they trained using the N-back exercise th larger the increases in their fluid intelligence scores were.

So in summary, it's good news for us all. It is now understood that there a range of cognitive training exercises and technologies which have strong evidence showing it is possible to increase a persons intelligence.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Nick Madge, and I have been involved in the fields of cognitive enhancement and accelerated learning for over five years.

I current run the human potential and development resource website InfiniteMinds, and have published a number of papers, guides and ebooks on improving cognitive abilities.

If you are intersted in research backed techniques for increasing your intelligence, I have collated these together into a step-by-step guide available at