Age and flexible thinking: an experimental demonstration of the beneficial effects of increased cognitively stimulating activity on fluid intelligence in healthy older adults
Tranter, L.J. and Koutstaal, W. (2008) Age and flexible thinking: an experimental demonstration of the beneficial effects of increased cognitively stimulating activity on fluid intelligence in healthy older adults. Aging Neuropsychology and Cognition, 15 (2). pp. 184-207. ISSN 1382-5585
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/13825580701322163
The disuse hypothesis of cognitive aging attributes decrements in fluid intelligence in older adults to reduced cognitively stimulating activity. This study experimentally tested the hypothesis that a period of increased mentally stimulating activities thus would enhance older adults' fluid intelligence performance. Participants (N = 44, mean age 67.82) were administered pre- and post-test measures, including the fluid intelligence measure, Cattell's Culture Fair (CCF) test. Experimental participants engaged in diverse, novel, mentally stimulating activities for 10-12 weeks and were compared to a control condition. Results supported the hypothesis; the experimental group showed greater pre- to post-CCF gain than did controls (effect size d = 0.56), with a similar gain on a spatial-perceptual task (WAIS-R Blocks). Even brief periods of increased cognitive stimulation can improve older adults' problem solving and flexible thinking.