New Evidence That IQ Can Be Increased With Brain Training

Source:New Evidence That IQ Can Be Increased With Brain Training

A new scientific paper I produced along with Sarah Cassidy and other colleagues, published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences, shows that significant increases in general intelligence, of 28 points on average, can be produced by undertaking online relational skills training. Furthermore, significant improvements in overall educational aptitude can be achieved by a few months of practicing one’s relational skills. Bryan Roche Source: Bryan Roche

In previous blogs, I have outlined the rationale behind this training and argued that a Relational Frame Theory (RFT) approach to intellectual development may hold the key to a functional approach to brain training. That is, RFT claims to have identified some basic building blocks of intellectual development, which center around the ability to understand complex inter-relations among stimuli. For example, understanding that if something is opposite to two other things, then those two things must be the same as each other, involves a relation skill. As another example, if one object is worth more than another, the second one is worth less than the first. The idea that these skills not only underlie intelligence, but constitute it, is core to RFT, a modern behavioral approach, although it sits well with more mainstream cognitive approaches.

While most of us are relatively proficient in basic relational skills, we are actually quite deficient in solving more complex relational problems. To address this deficiency, a form of online brain training called SMART training (Strengthening mental abilities with relational training) was developed by Relational Frame Theory researchers at Maynooth University.

The Cassidy et al. study is the second such study to be published by the Maynooth University team to show that SMART training can increase general intelligence as measured by standardized IQ tests, such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). This new study, however, provides additional evidence that scholastic ability, as measured by a gold standard aptitude test known as the Differential Aptitude Test (DATs), also increases as a result of this very particular form of intellectual skills training.

As documented in previous research, the IQ rises cannot be easily accounted for by practice at the IQ test, because the IQ test was administered only twice, with a several month interval between administrations. Furthermore, IQ rises due to practice are usually very small compared to the rises reported in this latest study. Further still, the training administered to the sample of 11-12 year old children employed in Experiment 1 of this study, was dissimilar to an IQ test. The same applies to the DATs aptitude test. This was administered only twice, and the increases in scores observed for numerical and verbal reasoning far outstripped the increases expected by practice at the test itself. Once again, the online relational skills training did not in any way teach the items on the DATs test. Advertisement

This is the second SMART study to achieve what critics of “brain training” treat as the benchmark for acceptable brain training; the transfer of skills from the training to other tasks. In this regard the Cassidy study provides more evidence that brain training can work to enhance essential intellectual skills, at least if it focuses on relational skills, or what RFT researchers call Arbitrarily Applicable Relational Responding.

A common criticism of brain training is that while it may improve some cognitive skills needed to complete the training, any benefits may have no practical relevance to daily life. In the current study, however, a sample of 30 14-15 year old children were tracked across several months of online training, 2-3 times per week for 30-45 minutes. Practice at relational skills, increased their numerical and verbal reasoning abilities, as measured by the DATs (administered and scored by independent third parties) by a significant degree. Together these numerical indices are used by educators to assess a child’s overall “educational aptitude”, which is the child’s ability to perform well in school across the board. By finding a significant increase in scholastic ability, the current study suggests that SMART relational skills training can make a real and measurable difference to the educability of a child.

While more evidence is always required when such promising results are reported by any new Brain Training method, the case is mounting that a relational frame theory approach to intellectual development may indeed have identified some basic building blocks of intelligence, once thought to be an unchangeable trait.

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Scientific Evidence On Brain Training

When we read articles online about brain training, it would appear that parts of the media and the science community would have us believe this is little or no scientific evidence on the benefits of doing brain training. This is understandable as many brain training companies have little bye way of research and trials into the results of their products. RaiseYourIQ have been involved both as scientists and psychologists in the development of the SMART brain training educational method within the behavioral research community in which the idea of “relational skills” first evolved. The RaiseYourIQ approach to brain training is based on Relational Frame Theory – a modern theory of cognition, that our team of psychologists have helped to develop over the past two decades.

RaiseYourIQ is the only online brain training company offering online relational skills training based on the tried and tested methods of applied behavior analysis (ABA). These technologies have developed over decades in a research tradition started by the now legendary psychologist B.F Skinner. Skinner was not a brain scientist. He was an expert in the science of learning and teaching. Skinner’s ideas eventually led to the development of supremely successful treatments for a whole range of educational and intellectual deficits including autism spectrum disorders, and his approach taught us how to help individuals reach and surpass their intellectual potential.

In fact,so successful is the applied behavior analysis approach that it is widely considered to be the most effective treatment for autism known to science and it is used by leading scientists and therapists all over the world, in private clinics and in the mainstream school system to help children at every level of academic ability. SMART BRAIN TRAINING has emerged from this applied behavior analysis tradition, and provides a training system that teaches the fundamental concepts required for intellectual development.

Some Published Scientific Research Papers Supporting the SMART Brain Training Approach


Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D., Roche, B. & Smeets, P. M.
(2001). Exemplar training and a derived transformation of function in
accordance with symmetry: II. The Psychological Record, 51, 589-603.

Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D. & Cullinan, V. (2001). In
Relational frame theory: A post-Skinnerian account of human language and
cognition. Hayes, S. C. (Ed.); Barnes-Holmes, D. (Ed.); Roche, B.
(Ed.), (pp. 181-195). New York, NY, US: Kluwer Academic/Plenum

Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D. & Murphy, C. (2004).
Teaching the generic skills of language and cognition: Contributions
from relational frame theory. In Moran, Daniel J. (Ed.); Malott,
Richard W. (Ed.), Evidence-based educational methods. San Diego, CA, US:
Elsevier Academic Press.

Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D., Roche, B., Healy, O., Lyddy,
F., Cullinan, V. & Hayes, S. C. (2001). Psychological
Development. In Hayes, Steven C. (Ed.); Barnes-Holmes, Dermot (Ed.);
Roche, Bryan (Ed.), Relational frame theory: A post-Skinnerian account
of human language and cognition (pp. 157-180). New York, NY, US: Kluwer
Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2001.

Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D., Roche, B. & Smeets, P. M.
(2001). Exemplar training and a derived transformation of function in
accordance with symmetry. The Psychological Record, 51, 287-308.

Berens, N. M. & Hayes, S. C. (2007). Arbitrarily applicable
comparative relations: Experimental evidence for a relational operant.
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40, 45-71.

Cassidy, S., Roche, B. & Hayes, S. C. (2011). A relational
frame training intervention to raise Intelligence Quotients: A pilot
study. The Psychological Record, 61, 173-198.

Cassidy, S., Roche, B. & O’Hora, D. (2010). Relational Frame
Theory and human intelligence. European Journal of Behavior Analysis,
11, 37-51.

Christoff, K., Keramatian, K., Gordon, A. M., Smith, R., &
Mädler, B. (2009). Prefrontal organization of cognitive control
according to levels of abstraction. Brain Research, 1286, 94-105.

Gómez, S. López, F., ; Martín, C. B., Barnes-Holmes, Y. &
Barnes-Holmes, D. (2007). Exemplar training and a derived
transformation of functions in accordance with symmetry and equivalence.
The Psychological Record, 57, 273-294.

Gore, N. J.; Barnes-Holmes, Yvonne & Murphy, Glynis. (2010). The
Relationship between Intellectual Functioning and Relational
Perspective-Taking. International Journal of Psychology &
Psychological Therapy, 10, 1-17.

Gorham, Marie; Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D. & Berens, N.
(2009). Derived comparative and transitive relations in young children
with and without autism. The Psychological Record, 59, 221-246.

Christoff, K., Keramatian, K., Gordon, A. M., Smith, R., &
Mädler, B. (2009). Prefrontal organization of cognitive control
according to levels of abstraction. Brain Research, 1286, 94-105.

Luciano, C., Becerra, I. G., & Valverde, M. R. (2007). The role
of multiple-exemplar training and naming in establishing derived
equivalence in an infant. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of
Behavior, 87, 349-365.

McHugh, L., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2004).
Relational Frame Account of the Development of Complex Cognitive
Phenomena: Perspective-taking, False Belief Understanding, and
Deception. International Journal of Psychology & Psychological
Therapy, 4, 303-324.

McHugh, L., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Barnes-Holmes, D.
Perspective-Taking as Relational Responding: A Developmental Profile.
(2004). The Psychological Record, 54, 115-144.

Murphy, C., Barnes-Holmes, D. & Barnes-Holmes, Y. (2005).
Derived manding in children with autism: Synthesizing Skinner’s verbal
behavior with relational frame theory. Journal of Applied Behavior
Analysis, 38, 445-462.

Murphy, C., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2009). Derived more-less
relational mands in children diagnosed with autism. Journal of Applied
Behavior Analysis, 42, 253-268.

Murphy, C., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2009). Establishing derived
manding for specific amounts with three children: An attempt at
synthesizing Skinner’s Verbal Behavior with relational frame theory. The
Psychological Record, 59, 75-92.

Oberauer, K. (2003). The multiple faces of working memory: Storage,
processing, supervision, and coordination. Intelligence, 31(2), 167-193.

O’Connor, J., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2011).
Establishing contextual control over symmetry and asymmetry performances
in typically developing children and children with autism. The
Psychological Record, 61, 287-312.

O’Toole, C., Barnes-Holmes, D., Murphy, C., O’Connor, J., &
Barnes-Holmes, Y. (2009). Relational flexibility and human
intelligence: Extending the remit of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior.
International Journal of Psychology & Psychological Therapy, 9,
1-17.

Ramsden, S., Richardson, F. M., Josse,G., Thomas, M. S. C., Ellis,
C., Shakeshaft, C., Seghier, M. L. & Price, C. P. (2011). Verbal
and non-verbal intelligence changes in the teenage brain. Nature 479,
113–116.

Rehfeldt, R. & Barnes-Holmes, Y. (2009). Derived Relational
Responding: Applications for Learners with Autism and other
Developmental Disabilities: A Progressive Guide to Change. Oakland, CA:
New Harbinger.

Roche, B., Cassidy, S. & Stewart, I. (2013). Nurturing genius:
Realizing a foundational aim of Psychology, In Kashdan, T &
Ciarrochi, J. (Eds.), Cultivating well-being: Treatment innovations in
Positive Psychology, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and beyond, pp.
267-302. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Rosales, R., Rehfeldt, R., & Lovett, S. (2011). Effects of
multiple exemplar training on the emergence of derived relations in
preschool children learning a second language. Analysis of Verbal
Behavior, 27, 61-74.

Stewart, I., Tarbox, J., Roche, B., & O’Hora, D. (2013).
Education, intellectual development, and relational frame theory. In
Dymond, S. & Roche, B. (Eds.), Advances in Relational Frame Theory:
Research & Application, pp. 178-198. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Vitale, A., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Campbell, C.
(2008). Facilitating responding in accordance with the relational frame
of comparison: Systematic empirical analyses. The Psychological
Record, 58, 365-390.

Weil, T. M., Hayes, S. C., & Capurro, P. (2011). Establishing a
deictic relational repertoire in young children. The Psychological
Record, 61, 371-390.

Scientific Evidence.