IQ tests can't measure it, but 'cognitive flexibility' is key to learning and creativity - Deepstash

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Cognitive flexibility

Cognitive flexibility

IQ is often cited as a measurement for success in fields of science, innovation, and technology.

However, some of the greatest achievements in history have relied on creativity, imagination, curiosity and empathy. These traits are part of "cognitive flexibility" - the ability to think of new ideas, make novel connections between existing ideas and make new inventions.

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Advantages of flexible thinking

Cognitive flexibility makes people smarter, which cannot be reflected in IQ tests.

  • Research shows that successful entrepreneurs are more cognitively flexible than managers of a similar age and IQ.
  • Flexible thinking can prevent biases, such as confirmation bias.
  • Cognitive flexibility is related to greater resilience to negative life events and a better quality of life.
  • Cognitive flexibility is closely related to the ability to understand the emotions, thoughts, and intentions of others.

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Cognitive rigidity

Cognitive rigidity is present in many mental health disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, and autism spectrum disorder. 

Research shows that cognitive flexibility depends on the network of the frontal lobe and "striatal" brain regions. 

  • The brain's frontal area is involved in higher cognitive processes, such as decision-making and problem-solving. 
  • The striatum area is related to reward and motivation.

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You can train cognitive flexibility

Studies have shown the benefits of training cognitive flexibility. It has been shown to be beneficial for all children, including those with autism, and for older adults.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help people change their thought patterns and behaviour.
  • Another way is with structure learning - the ability to extract information about the structure of a complex environment and make sense of the information.

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