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.
- Disuse theory of cognitive aging
- Environmental enrichment
- Fluid intelligence
- Neuronal plasiticity
- Successful aging