By Gregory Mitchell
Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence are the factors that make up our general intelligence. Fluid Intelligence is our basic information processing. It has the 'fluid' quality of being directable to almost any situation and gives the ability to find meaning in confusion and solve new problems. Crystallized Intelligence is one's investment in particular areas of acquired knowledge, experience and practical skills; it also includes our language and social skills.
For most people Fluid Intelligence ceases to develop after the age of about twenty and starts to fall after the age of 25, unless an appropriate intervention is made to continue the mind's active development. On the other hand, many dimensions of Crystallized Intelligence typically continue to develop throughout the life span, particularly in the individual's chosen domain of work experience. But this can limit the individual to a perspective within narrow boundaries; creativity and wisdom demand a much wider perspective, in which a range of domains are interlinked.
By using the techniques of Mind Development, the development of both Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence can be restarted and accelerated or broadened, even if the individual is of middle age, so he or she can have the boundless energy of youth and achieve the wisdom of the aged.
There is particular need for the widespread inclusion of more cognitively stimulating educational and entertainment activities for young people, as teenagers have lower IQs than their counterparts of 30 years ago. Tests carried out in 1980 and again in 2008 show that the IQ score of an average 14-year-old dropped by more than two points over the period. Among those in the upper half of the intelligence scale, a group that is typically dominated by children from middle class families, performance was even worse, with an average IQ score six points below what it was 28 years ago. The trend marks an abrupt reversal of the so-called "Flynn effect" which has seen IQ scores rise year on year, among all age groups, in most industrialized countries throughout the past century. Youth culture is more visually orientated around computer games than they are in terms of reading and holding conversations.
This article will describe the stages that an individual passes through as the mind develops its faculties of intelligence, from birth through to maturity. It will indicate the points at which development may become arrested, and also show the potential that exists in human beings for much greater mind development than is customarily the case, given appropriate stimulation and training.
The future prosperity of our society depends on the standard of education rising, to develop to a high level all the kinds of intelligence of which a person is capable - not just for children at school but as an ongoing lifetime process of adult development. In this way, we have the potential to create a much saner, happier and more exciting world to live in.
Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget, a child psychologist, traced four broad stages in the logical and cognitive development of children, in his studies from the 1930s to the '70s. The first stage, from birth to two years, is the stage of Sensori-Motor intelligence: the infant's coordination of reflexes and sensori-motor repetition, leading up to basic recall of absent objects and to an experimental search for new means to achieve pleasurable ends, bounded by what the child can physically perform and observe being performed.
During the course of a child's cognitive development there are changes in the way that the individual represents (i.e. stores and retrieves) information that is perceived through the senses. A small infant is limited to the actions which it can make upon the immediate world surrounding it, when it first learns to separate the world into 'me' and 'not me', discovering its body schema. From then on its learning consists of developing and revising that schema as it performs more operations on the outside world and learns from the effects that result.
It is hard to imagine how a baby thinks. It cannot think in pictures of objects because it has not really discovered what objects are yet, or what properties they have, in a real enough way to picture them. Instead it remembers things as a kind of 'muscle memory' (in the sensori-motor kinesthetic system) using an internal representation of the 'feel' of things to code the information. Before 4 or 5 years of age traumatic memories and their accompanying considerations and decisions that affect future behavior, are not available to recall in the way that an adult recalls, like a full-perceptic movie, but rather in terms of emotional body-centered feelings of needs and wants, or fears and pains, although there will be an element of auditory and visual imagery particularly accompanying poignant moments. There will be hardly any visual representation of the first eighteen months, until the infant becomes ambulatory and starts to walk and talk.
The second stage, of the toddler up to 5 years, is the stage of Pre-logical intuitive thought. This is a period of 'magical thinking' in the sense that he easily confuses apparent or imagined events with real events. He would, if allowed, jump out of a window expecting to fly, because he has seen birds fly. It is something of a 'dream world'; a toy car is very much the real thing to a toddler. This is a state commonly regressed to by those on hallucinogenic drugs.
In normal development, at about the age of five, a relatively sudden transition occurs. Control passes from the mammalian brain (with schemata based on classical conditioning) to the fully human brain (a structure operating on associative, operant and cognitive processes). After this transition, many lower order mechanisms become inhibited and they are replaced by higher order cortical mechanisms, which operate cognitively. As part of this transition, language begins to function as a vehicle for logical thought at the concrete level, rather than solely a means to serve social and emotional needs. The predominant mode of representation of the world has become auditory, with memories featuring received commands.
The third stage, between 6 - 12, is Concrete Operational thought, when the child can symbolize (i.e. can make a concrete mental image of) operations, without having to do them physically. The child has developed realistic internal imaging of the world around him, so that by 7 or 8 years of age a concrete visual mode of representation has become the predominant way of thinking about and remembering experience, alongside kinesthetic and auditory representations. He learns to classify and relate, and to measure distances and quantities, and thereby performs constructive thinking. Contact with the environment is maintained during such mental operations, because by reversing them, a return to the perceived form is always possible. A child will build and knock down Lego constructions. Concrete operations are the foundation upon which more abstract intellectual operations can be built. Young children and those restricted to concrete operations tend to focus attention on only one salient aspect of an object, situation or problem at a time, to the exclusion of other potentially relevant aspects. Piaget called this tendency 'centration.'
Pretty soon though, the child's world widens further still, until it includes information which isn't easily represented using pictures. (Try imaging a concept like 'freedom' or 'fairness'). When this happens, the child becomes more likely to use symbolic representation, including inner speech, using words as formalized symbols which 'stand for' the concepts. This is the beginning of the conceptual, auditory digital stage of development. At this point the child's own decisions and intentions may be expressed as inner speech, whereas before they were 'felt' intentions. This is the beginning of conceptual cognitive ability, which is developed through effective education.
The fourth stage, that takes place from age 12 (given sufficient IQ, education and stimuli) to adulthood, is Formal Operations. This is a more objective way of perceiving the world with the ability to focus simultaneously on several aspects of a problem - this is 'decentration.' Even adults, before they obtain the full abilities of formal operations - or if (as is common) they do not develop that far - continue with a centrated, single-minded point of view, intolerant of alternatives. Adult centration is the rule rather than the exception. The centrated person has tunnel vision when it comes to the world of ideas; the decentrated person is open to considering new ideas from all directions.
Typically, a person of average intelligence (which is only 100 by definition) would remain below the sub-stage 1 of Formal Operations, predominantly using Concrete Operations. A higher level of mental maturity would only be manifest in emotionally neutral situations or in a domain specific manner, perhaps in the context of work requiring concentrated problem solving. When "off duty" or when under emotional pressure most people would tend to regress to the level of Concrete Operational thought, and under severe pressure to the Pre-Logical thinking of Stage 2.
Only about 17% of the population, those with an IQ above 110, use Formal Operations on an everyday basis. And only about 5% of the population reach the final stage of Formal Operations, true formal thought, and probably about 2% continue to develop at the Postformal Level. Of them, about 0.1% go on to complete this process. This is mainly because a person needs to be in an educational or otherwise stimulating environment, until he or she is about thirty. Most university students leave university after gaining a first degree at between the ages of twenty-two to twenty-four, so the process of Postformal development all but ceases, unless they continue to work in an intellectually stimulating environment.
Having a wealth of concrete information which he is unable to understand, the person attempts to rearrange this information in order to simplify it. He discovers he can do this by keeping some variables constant, while he experiments with the others. The person induces generalized laws which he can apply to data of the most diverse kinds. The person can think about thoughts, classify classifications, and 'operate on operations' and so conceive of general laws behind the array of particular instances. Hypotheses can be made and tested, and implications deduced, through scientific experiment.
To summarize, the baby's mode of representation is primarily kinesthetic, at the sensori-motor stage of development. By 4 years of age, during the pre-logical stage, the predominant representation has become auditory. The child then develops realistic internal imaging of the world around him, so that by 7 or 8 years of age a concrete visual mode of representation has become predominant. Conceptual thought as inner speech then develops and by 10 years of age at the earliest, or more typically 12-14 years, the young person is ready, given sufficient and competent schooling, to develop toward Formal operations.
Note: The following research showed that subjects with a high IQ pass through the Piagetian stages more rapidly. One hundred nine fifth and seventh graders, classified as either bright or average, were tested to determine the relationship of intelligence (as defined by scores on psychometrically derived tasks) and developmental precocity (defined in terms of Piagetian theory). Specific measures used were the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices, and Piagetian tasks (conservation of volume, displacement, the balance, and the period of a pendulum). The major finding was that students who scored higher on psychometric measures of intelligence were also developmentally advanced in Piaget's sequence of cognitive developmental stages. The finding did not contradict Piagetian theory since out-of-sequence successes were not observed.
Very bright (mean IQ = 152) third graders were compared with both average IQ third graders and average IQ sixth graders on perceptual, cognitive, and affective perspective-taking tasks. The role-taking skills of the intellectually-gifted children were more similar to those of their mental age mates than to those of their chronological age mates on both the cognitive and affective tasks. On the perceptual task, the bright children's performance fell between that of the two comparison groups. The results provide evidence that gifted children are advanced in thinking about both the social and physical worlds, and have implications for educational issues such as curriculum development and acceleration vs. enrichment.
Jean Piaget offers a helpful description of developmental stages as they relate to learning. Gifted students are often in his "formal operations" stage when their peers are still in his "pre-operational" or "concrete operations" stages. When a child is developmentally advanced he/she has different learning abilities and needs. This is where Bloom's Taxonomy can be a particularly useful. Students in the "formal operations" developmental stage need learning experiences at the upper end of Bloom's Taxonomy. Essentially all assignments should offer the student the opportunity to utilize higher level thinking skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation, as defined by Bloom.
Piaget has written that somewhere around puberty, given sufficient educational stimulus the thinking process changes from concrete operations to formal operations. Neurological change is not the only change at this time; the social environment of an adolescent plays a major role along with quality of education being another key factor. Children construct reality out of their experience with the environment. As children grow older and their thought process matures they can construct reality more closer to that of an adult.
The four languages of conscious thought
You can consider your conscious thought processes - those which you can tune in to and observe as they happen - as being expressed in any or all of four thinking 'languages' or modalities, which are:
For example you can think about your friend, lover or relative by saying that person's name in your mind, by forming a mental picture of that person, by sensing the person's tone of voice, or by tuning-in to the feeling response to the concept of that person. For much of your conscious thought, all four of these thinking languages come into play simultaneously. One may play a dominant role, since others may be suppressed, depending on your relationship to a particular subject (such as dislikes, fears, bad memories; or likes, compulsions, good memories).
- Kinesthetic thought: experiencing bodily sensations, feelings and emotions, as reactions to a memory, immediate experience or imagined situation.
- Auditory thought: hearing others' speech, natural sounds and music, which are recalled from memory or imagined.
- Visual thought: seeing mental pictures, which are often fuzzy and fragmentary and which are recalled from memory or imagined.
- Verbal thought: speaking in your mental voice, just as if you were expressing your mental processes aloud in words, phrases and sentences - this is 'inner speech'.
Below the foreground of conscious thought is a continuous stream of preconscious unseen mental activity, which organizes mental contents and controls actions 'without even thinking about it', like turning the page of a book. The four thinking languages are the means by which you project snapshots of the rapidly moving preconscious processes onto the 'screen' of your immediate attention.
You can capture some of these fleeting thoughts and translate them into conscious form, but the vast majority of them flow on invisibly and reliably without your conscious attention. The left-brain level of preconscious thought is quite capable of making decisions, of reasoning logically, and of directing a large share of your moment-to-moment actions, usually in the form of pre-programmed habitual patterns of behavior. The right brain aspect of the preconscious is the basis for hunches, or intuitive thought processes, which seem to tell you what to do on a gut-feeling level, but offer no well worked-out verbal reasoning processes to substantiate the proposed course of action.
The preconscious thought stream, then, is the result of the conscious verbal left hemisphere and the nonverbal but aware right hemisphere, interfacing beneath the surface with the deeper Subconscious and the still deeper unconscious processes of both hemispheres. The preconscious emerges into consciousness in the form of the four thought languages: verbal, visual, auditory and kinesthetic. The content of the deeper subconscious may also erupt into consciousness, through the medium of a fifth language: that of metaphors and symbolic representations. This occurs most of all during dreaming, and twilight states of consciousness.
Suppression of the Subconscious (and by extension, repression of the unconscious) has the effect of reducing the perception of smell and taste, because these two senses are mediated by the more primitive (sub-cortical) centers of the brain which are the seat of the unconscious.
However, for those who have developed a high level of integration between the hemispheres, integration of the Subconscious has to a significant extent begun, so a further dimension of perception becomes apparent: the thought languages may be represented by taste, smell and color, blending together in a synesthesia. Improved integration, then, enlarges the spotlight of the conscious mind, so that neither irrational thoughts nor useful intuitions are likely to pass by unnoticed, and the full wealth of the experience of life becomes open to view and may be appreciated.
If an adult is 'stuck' in a predominantly kinesthetic, auditory or visual mode of representation, this is a case of arrested development - he is at the concrete operational level of development, or maybe lower. At the primary school level, the education of children is best tailored to a child's major system of representation. However, to get a meaningful education at the secondary and tertiary level, an individual needs to be capable of a conceptual level of thinking, actively developing their Formal operations. Therefore the spoken and written modes of thinking should not be neglected in favor of the audio-visual methods of teaching, effective as they are; it should play an equal role through concentrated study and analysis of written materials and assignments involving creative writing and speaking.
Moving beyond the Formal Operational stage of cognitive development, requires the achievement of Individuation. According to Jung, humans are not merely shaped by past events but strive for personal development as well. Part of the nature of humans is to be constantly developing, growing, and moving toward a balanced and complete level of development. Our present personality is determined by both who and what we have been and by the person we hope to become. The process of self-actualization is oriented toward the future. Jung's theory is based on the assumption that humans tend to move toward the fulfillment or realization of all their capabilities.
Achieving Individuation, or a fully harmonious and integrated personality, is a primary goal. To come to our full realization, we must become aware of and accept the full range of our being. This means that the public self that we present is only a small part of who and what we are. For Jung, both constructive and destructive forces exist in the human psyche, and to become integrated we must accept the dark side of our nature with our primitive impulses such as selfishness and greed. Acceptance of our 'dark side' or Shadow does not imply being dominated by this dimension of our being but simply recognizing that this is a part of our nature. At the end of the Individuation process, an individual is at least a 51% shareholder in his own mind. In that sense, he has integrated the Ego and the Shadow, and achieved sufficient Individuation to overcome the Superego, so he has majority control.
Jung says his method of active imagination involves a close attention to dream material and integration of the meanings they contain through some form of self-expression. Rigorous attention to, and integration of, unconscious material is the process by which adults begin to achieve Individuation. The process of using Mind Development techniques, such as facility with right brain mnemonics and creativity techniques, has a similar effect, because a student is continually drawing on the unconscious content of the right hemisphere and in the process discharging the energetic barrier that prevents integration.
Once a person has become a majority shareholder in his mind, then Self-Actualizing needs come to the fore: the student wonders about the remaining 49%. The inner-directed person does not derive his sense of value or identity solely from tradition nor from conformity to peer-group fashions, but from the resources of his own nature. This orientation can only be achieved by an individual who is in the process of developing his own character, of becoming 'field-independent', his or her volition self-determined (based on self-knowledge) rather than the effect of manipulation or propitiation. The most original, creative and outstanding men and women are invariably of this type, and yet it is no 'elitist' type, for it is available to all human beings with the courage of their convictions. It is the way of life that takes 'individuation' as its goal: to manifest one's highest potential. To achieve Individuation and move beyond the stage of Formal Operations, the individual needs to become much more field-independent and inner-directed than is generally the case. There is a significant correlation between field-independence and IQ.
- Rely on the surrounding perceptual field.
- Have difficulty attending to, extracting, and using non-salient cues.
- Have difficulty providing structure to ambiguous information.
- Have difficulty restructuring new information and forging links with prior knowledge.
- Have difficulty retrieving information from long-term memory.
- Have a disposition to be other-directed.
- Have a tendency to be extraverted.
- Field-dependents tend to be extrinsically motivated.
Note: Intrinsic motivation, or engaging in a task for its enjoyment value, is one of the most powerful forms of motivatio. It is associated with enhanced performance, improved conceptual and creative thinking, superior memory recall, positive affect, subsequent willingness to engage in other tasks, and better psychological and physical health - compared with extrinsic motivation, or engaging in a task to please others or to acquire an incentive.
- Perceive objects as separate from the field.
- Can dis-embed relevant items from non-relevant items within the field.
- Provide structure when it is not inherent in the presented information.
- Reorganize information to provide a context for prior knowledge.
- Tend to be more efficient at retrieving items from memory.
- Have a disposition to be inner-directed.
- Have a tendency to be introverted.
- Field-Independents tend to be intrinsically motivated.
Stages of Individuation parallel the stages of intellectual development, as described by Piaget and others. Achieving a substantial degree of Individuation and field-independence are necessary preconditions if one wishes to reach the Postformal Level of Operations and beyond.
Maturity is completeness of growth and development. There are three components to this process: physical, psychological and cognitive. It is cognitive maturity that develops last, usually not reaching completion until the mid-twenties. Indeed, cognitive development continues until at least 30, given ongoing education or mental stimulus, and at later ages may be undertaken as a process of self-directed learning and development - such as with the Mind Development Courses - with corresponding benefits.
Cognitive maturity includes the following abilities:
New MRI studies of the developing brain, clearly show that the physical development of the pre-frontal cortex is not complete until the mid-twenties. Before recent research revealed this startling new information, specialists had assumed that young people acted the way they do because of raging hormones, heredity, bad or good environmental factors, or a host of other reasons, all hopelessly commingled into a stew of influences that could probably never be understood. It is not that these other factors don't influence young people; the issue that underlies all of this, however, is an incompletely developed pre-frontal cortex that limits their ability to independently make mature decisions. Quite literally, they do not have the brain cell connections to make judgment calls.
- Mature judgment
- Seeing into the future
- Seeing how behavior can affect future
- Associating cause and effect
- Moral intelligence
- Abstract thinking
- Seeing what is not obvious
- Planning and decision-making
- Rational behavior and decision-making
- Rules of social conduct
- Understanding rules of social conduct
Between the ages of 20 and 30, or earlier, if a student has a high IQ, especially if he is in a stimulating environment such as a university, or if he has a demanding profession or absorbing interest in which an extensive Knowledge Structure is required, a person who has obtained true Formal thought may continue to develop his or her intellect at the fifth stage of development, that of Postformal Operations. In the case of a person with a deviation IQ of 150+, he or she may start to develop Postformal Operations at 15 or earlier, and then continue to develop for another 10 to 15 years, if remaining in a stimulating environment.
With external help, such as our Mind Development Courses, the natural processes of development can be restarted even if the individual is well over the age of 30. Changes in environmental demands during adulthood, such as retraining for vocational needs, may also stimulate renewed development. Development of Crystallized Intelligence over an increasingly broad range of life domains is then possible throughout life. This provides the contextual perspective from which original creativity and wisdom may arise, and maturity may also assist in the development of other kinds of intelligence, such as social, moral and emotional competence. A person aged over 30 is likely to have better problem solving ability than one under 30 with the same IQ, because of completion of maturation and increase of acquired crystallized intelligence.
If an adult has completed the stage of Formal Operations and reached full Formal Thought, the development of knowledge structures and intellectual development will continue at the Postformal level. On the other hand, without appropriate mental stimuli, adult intellectual development may not even reach to the level of Formal Operations yet alone achieving Individuation and Postformal development. Even university students may not have attained true Formal cognitive functionality and it appears the majority of the population function, most of the time, at the level of Concrete Operations. Furthermore, many people do not have a reliable ability to make Concrete Operations in an objective manner that is inner-directed enough to be free from the influence of their environmental conditioning and peer pressures.
But if the final stage of true Formal thought is reached, either naturally or through assisted intellectual development, there will be spontaneous attempts to increase mental capacity still further, to complete the process of maturation. This is Pierre de Chardin's point of ignition; a point at which a person has become sufficiently self-aware to attempt to direct his own course of mental evolution. He has developed metacognitive intelligence, in which the person is aware and in control of his own thinking processes.
Postformal thinking requires the ability to hold in the mind a complex array of differing information and viewpoints, in order to synthesize an overview. A variety of research suggests that people have the potential to gradually reach higher levels of mental complexity throughout the course of their lifespan. Mind Development Courses have the specific agenda of increasing the symbol space of the conscious mind as well as the speed at which it is accessed, in order to increase the capacity for cognitive complexity, with all the attendant benefits that ensue, including the increase of Fluid Intelligence.
Postformal thinking possesses an understanding of the relative, non-absolute nature of knowledge; it accepts contradiction as a basic aspect of reality; it includes the ability to focus simultaneously on several aspects of a problem, to see both sides and further implications and possibilities, and not to be identified in a solid way with only with one point of view. This is a 'broad perspective,' metacognitive viewpoint. Postformal thinkers are aware of paradox; they are capable of dialectic reasoning and are able to synthesize contradictory thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
Mind Development recognizes five levels of Postformal thought:
At the fifth Level of Postformal operations, the Trialectic level, there is an integration of Convergent Intelligence (analytical focussing toward a single answer to a problem as required in IQ tests), Divergent Intelligence (the creative skill of looking wider than the obvious and asking new questions to generate novel and interesting ideas) and Practical Intelligence (knowledge about how to do things and relate effectively with the real world). I call this Trivergent Intelligence. This is a transitional phase toward thinking that is beyond Postformal operations.
- Dialectical reasoning:
In dialectics the resolution of two elements (thesis and antithesis) occurs due to contradiction or conflict resolving into a new thesis (and thus creating a new antithesis). Dialectic reasoning is a way of thinking which seeks to discover a whole new series of questions to be asked, rather than in finding 'once and for all' answers; it facilitates problem finding rather than just problem solving.
- Problem finding:
Intelligence is the function of perceiving, posing and resolving problems. Problem finding means problem discovery - insight into what is missing in the existing picture of a situation. It is an aspect of divergent intelligence and requires initiative and creativity.
- Relativistic operations:
Consideration of the relative, non-absolute nature of knowledge, which accepts contradiction as a basic aspect of reality.
- Reflective judgment:
Beliefs are justified probabilistically using evidence and arguments; conclusions are defended as representing the most complete, most compelling, or most plausible understanding of an issue available to date, based on the current evidence. See the Scale of Reflective Judgment which follows below.
- Trialectic reasoning:
Postformal operations use a more flexible logic than formal thinking, containing fewer assumptions. Although this logic is 'weaker,' it allows the development of new kinds of thinking. Trialectics is the final stage of Postformal operations. Moving beyond Dialectic argument which is based on contradiction, we can look at the pros and cons of an argument trialectically, which includes the ability to think with Three Valued Logic: thesis and antithesis exist but are viewed in a qualitatively different way, and the resolution between them is through complementarity or cooperation, giving rise to a higher degree of insight, in which a new thesis is incorporated or synthesized.
Metacognition is thinking about thinking, knowing "what we know" and "what we don't know." Just as an executive's job is management of an organization, a thinker's job is management of thoughts. The basic metacognitive strategies are:
A "thinking person" is in charge of their own behavior. They determine when it is necessary to use metacognitive strategies. They monitor, control and judge their thinking. They figure out how and when to do a particular task or set of tasks, and then make sure that the tasks are done correctly.
- Connecting new information to former knowledge.
- Selecting thinking strategies deliberately.
- Planning, monitoring, and evaluating thinking processes.
Metacognition involves thinking and reasoning about one's own mental processes, such as memory, perception, calculation, association, etc. Metacognitive self-regulation is therefore central to intelligence. Most everybody with an IQ over 90 has some capacity for Metacognition, but a person's Metacognitive Intelligence increases dramatically if the person is able to achieve Formal and Postformal stages of mental development, and then it will continue to increase, until at least the age of 30.
Learning how to learn, developing a repertoire of thinking processes which can be applied to solve problems, is a major goal of education. When life presents situations that cannot be solved by learned responses, metacognitive behavior is brought into play. Metacognitive skills are needed when habitual responses are not successful. Mind Development courses offer guidance in recognizing, and practice in applying, metacognitive strategies that help students successfully solve problems throughout their lives.
A specific type of multitasking behavior that plays a key role in human cognition is called branching, and depends on the front-most region of the brain, the anterior prefrontal cortex, an area especially well-developed in humans compared to other primates and the area of brain responsible for Metacognition. Branching involves keeping a goal in mind over time (in working memory), while at the same time being able to change focus among tasks.
Take, for example, the field of study. Novice learners don't stop to evaluate their comprehension of the material. They generally don't examine the quality of their work or stop to make revisions as they go along. Satisfied with just scratching the surface, novice learners don't attempt to examine a problem in depth. They don't make connections or see the relevance of the material in their lives. Expert learners, on the other hand, apply metacognitive skills. They are aware of the goal of their studies: what they are intending to learn. At the same time as reading and understanding the material, they are aware of when they need to check for errors, the reason why they fail to comprehend, and how they may need to redirect their efforts. They realize there is more to discover about the subject than is contained in the written lines.
Formal operations of thought tend to overemphasize the power of pure logic in problem solving and underemphasize the pragmatic quality of real-life social or interpersonal situations. Formal thinking is therefore best suited for well-defined problems that call for scientific thinking and logical analysis and imply a single correct solution. It places a greater emphasis on problem solving than on analysis of situations and consequent discovery of problems.
Beyond the traditional Formal Operational level of intellectual development (which consists of symbol manipulation, reasoning, etc.), individuals can develop the ability to reason in situations beyond just a right or wrong answer (for example, moral actions) and take into account different perspectives. Whilst Formal thought perceives a system of organized complexity as being closed, simply reducible to its parts, Postformal thought is aware of the open aspects of a system - that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. (For more about Open Systems see General Systems Theory.)
Once a person has reached the level of Postformal Operations, there is an integration of Emotion and Cognition. Postformal operations include the evaluation of the contextual relevance of emotional information when decision making. Along with the increase in Metacognitive Intelligence that accompanies Postformal operations, there is an increased ability for Introspection. Most people have some capacity for introspection, to look inward and reflect on one's self and one's own thoughts, but this capacity increases dramatically when a student attains the stages of Formal and Postformal Operations.
In recent years, Gardner's evaluation of multiple intelligences has identified (at least) seven specific intelligences linked to ways of learning, including spatial, body-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical and linguistic. Social intelligence has also been identified as a critical factor in personal development, as to be successful one needs to be able to relate well to others, to present oneself with clarity and authenticity, and communicate empathetically. An important aspect of social intelligence is Emotional intelligence: the ability to perceive, understand and regulate emotion in the self and others.
The question remains, how do people employ these many intelligences they may have in varying degrees? Whilst they may function on demand or at random, it is possible to develop a kind of meta-intelligence, by which a person rules over and helps to direct each specific capacity that they have. Meta-intelligence relates to awareness, adaptability, and the relative comparisons of different mental frameworks, models, and sets of behavior. Obtaining a meta-view of one's own mental functions is a result of adult intellectual development. Ego strength and maturity enable an objective understanding of cause and effect that enhances the multiple intelligences that are not strictly cognitive.
The good news is that metacognitive growth continues after the age of twenty and certainly continues until, at least, the age of thirty. The bad news, however, is that it tends to become more Domain Specific during the adult phase of development. This is because the metacognitive processes, as they develop, are becoming progressively more dependent on Intermediate-Term Working Memory and specialist knowledge. In short, an adult has a higher level of meta-intelligence than a teenager, but it tends to be in several specific domains rather than Domain General. This can be countered by ongoing self-directed education and the tools to do this efficiently and well are provided by the Mind Development Courses.
An adult is rarely presented with a completely novel problem in the real world of academic or occupational endeavors. Rather, the problems which an adult is asked to solve almost inevitably draw greatly on his accumulated knowledge and skills. For an adult, intellect is better recognized by the range of tasks that the person can accomplish and the skills that he has developed, rather than by the abstract cognitive tasks typically included in IQ tests. He comes to increasingly rely on Crystallized Intelligence, thus the content of the intellect is at least as important as the processes of intellect in determining an adult's real-world problem solving efficiency.
Emotional intelligence helps us to understand and manage our own emotions as well as other people's emotions towards us. Social intelligence is a super-set of emotional intelligence, incorporating our interactions with other people and how well we understand them. Systems intelligence takes a still broader view, to consider that human action always takes place in systemic settings consisting of both human and other interactive contextual elements.
Systems intelligent people understand why they act like they do - they understand their emotions. Systems intelligent people also understand social interactions and the importance of collaboration. Systems intelligence goes beyond emotional and social factors, however, to understand the broader context within which social interactions take place and to be intelligent about - and ultimately take responsibility for - the workings of the organizational system as a whole.
Systems intelligence is intelligent behavior in the context of complex systems, which are often human in nature such as business organizations, or political, economic and societal interactions of a systemic, inter-relating and interactive nature. Systems intelligence is an innate trait in all humans. It is a capacity that all of us can reveal, if we recognize that the whole world around us is made of a complex web of relationships in which we play our part. If we act intelligently, we can influence positive outcomes, and help to avoid negative ones.
Systems intelligence in a person is developed through the following levels:
Levels 1 & 2 correlate with Formal Operations of cognitive ability. A person needs to have developed some level of detachment before he is able to see himself as part of a system. This detachment only comes with Formal Operations, even if the only goal is to conform. Until a person has the ideocentric viewpoint that comes with attaining the lower levels of Formal Operations, his effective Systems Intelligence is zero. Before a person has reached the level of Formal Operations, he is running on automatic, he can only conform to simple systems like the family, and he is not aware that he is part of a larger system.
- Being aware of the systemic environment in which one is operating, with an accompanying mental model of the system.
- Being aware that possibilities for better outcomes - such as improved performance and productivity - stem from the interaction with oneself and the system.
- Taking responsibility and managing improved and more productive ways of behavior in the system.
- Sustaining intelligent management of the system to produce positive results in the long term.
- Initiating and leading organizations that are systems intelligent.
Awareness that he is part of a system is only the first step, an individual will have to reach the level of Postformal Operations before he can have an impact and change a system in any but a minor way - and by this I mean a change for the better. Levels 3, 4 & 5 therefore correlate with the Postformal Levels.
Confirmation Bias apparently affects all of us. Simply put, we tend to first form an opinion, and then look at the evidence supporting that opinion. If evidence to the contrary is presented, we either downplay it or outright ignore it.
Systems intelligence is all about acting in ways that take into account the true systems we participate in, in our daily lives. That is, "true" systems as opposed to systems we would like to believe we participate in. This strongly suggests that a systems intelligent person does his best to avoid confirmation bias.
Systems thinking as a method allows us to consciously assess evidence and reject any bias--including confirmation bias. Systems intelligence gives us the skill to recognize and reject confirmation bias, to act and react with a healthy amount of skepticism. This suggests that a systems intelligent person by nature strongly rejects pseudoscientific thinking, and exhibits a clear tendency to apply the scientific method: to be as objective, clear and rational as possible about the functions and interactions of the systems he plays a part in.
Of course, individuals do not stand alone, they work with others in groups and share information. Individual thoughts may be shared with others and distributed by various means, while other information remains private (owned by one individual).
In the context of groups of people working together, it may be impossible to truly centralize executive functions, since each of the group's members possesses metacognitive intelligence and thus will automatically monitor their group's functioning. They can choose to cooperate or not with a named leader, and may even usurp the leader's control when necessary. There is distributed cognition within the group, between its members. They influence and depend on each other and each brings unique skills and knowledge to the table.
From the artificial intelligence field, researchers have discarded the idea of a General Problem Solver in favor of knowledge-based expert systems. This is because no amount of processing power can achieve real-world problem solving proficiency without an extensive set of domain-relevant knowledge structures. This cannot be accomplished alone, it requires a process of Distributed Cognition. Not all of one's intelligence occurs in one's own head; it needs to be combined with external resources of knowledge and understanding. This latter, external and distributed type of cognition is termed Extelligence. Like Metacognition, this is an important aspect of Crystallized Intelligence.
Of course, Extelligence begins with the transfer of learning. Learning is important because no one is born with the ability to function competently as an adult in society. The best learning experiences lead to transfer, defined as the ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts. Educators hope that students will transfer learning from one problem to another within a course, from one year in school to another, between school and home, and from school to workplace. Assumptions about transfer accompany the belief that it is better to broadly educate people than simply train them to perform particular tasks.
A student who is stuck at the level of Concrete Operations can go through the motions of study, but his learning will be context specific and there will be little transfer to real life. Formal Operations are therefore a prerequisite for effective Mind Development. Unless a person has attained the level of Formal Operations all effective learning is situated in its original context: there is very little transfer from one context to another.
Our Extelligence is our capacity to utilize the cognitive capacities of significant others: our friends, our family, people at work and at our place of study, experts of various types, etc. And our capacities to use accredited instruments, adding machines, the Internet, libraries, works of reference etc., to extend our cognitive powers.
The term 'extelligence' was originated by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen in their 1997 book Figments of Reality. It is a form of distributed intelligence. Whereas intelligence is based on the knowledge and cognitive processes within the brain, extelligence is based on the information, skills and understanding that one can readily access from external sources, the pooled sum of human knowledge. Each individual can only access those parts of the total extelligence that is available, if they are willing and able to do so, and to contribute to it. There has to be an appreciation of what is out there, where to find it, and what it means in relation to the internal conceptual understanding. Extelligence is a metacognitive skill that does not usually develop to any great degree until a student has reached the level of further education.
Although creative individuals are often thought of as working in isolation, much of our intelligence and creativity results from interaction and collaboration with other individuals, with their ideas, writing, research and methodologies. We have to actively pursue and manage these relationships and the information that flows between us.
All people, except those with a very low IQ, have some capacity to make use of Extelligence, but people who have attained the stages of Formal and Postformal operations have a dramatically increased capacity to exploit Extelligence. It could be argued that the capacity to exploit Extelligence is a dimension of Metacognition.
Postformal thought takes advantage of the individual's full spectrum of knowledge, covering all the domains in which he has acquired knowledge, especially expert knowledge. He can synthesize new solutions drawing upon domain-general rather than domain-specific expertise - and predict interaction between the domains - within the boundaries of his knowledge network, which as an Open System may be expanded and revised, and incorporate the research and conclusions of others as an (almost unlimited) extelligent resource. Developing the Knowledge Net is most important, if a student wishes to enhance his Postformal level of operations.
Extelligence, then, is a concept that helps to explain the development of a mind in intelligent species. Our Extelligence is much more complex even than our intelligence. The basis of Extelligence is a sharing of knowledge between humans. Extelligence is the intelligence we share. Extelligence involves everything that exceeds the intelligence of one human being.
Extelligence & Exformation
The word Exformation is used by Tor N rretranders in his book The User Illusion, published in Danish in 1991 and in English in 1998. He argues that effective communication depends on a shared body of knowledge between the persons communicating. If someone is talking about cows, for example, what is said will be unintelligible unless the person listening has some idea what a cow is, what it is good for, and in what contexts they might encounter one. In using simply the word "cow," N rretranders says, the speaker has deliberately thrown away a huge body of contextual information, though it remains implied.
Language is any tool for transfer of information between two intelligent beings (or between intelligent agents within a system), dependent upon Exformation to be useful. With natural language many words are the results of complex calculations over hundreds or thousands of years (depth). A message has depth if it contains large quantities of Exformation. Exformation is a useful concept here - Exformation is a very beautiful expression. In order to access the Exformation that lies in our nonconscious, a skill that can hover between a conscious and a nonconscious state of mind needs to exist. It's said that the more Exformation you generate, the better your writing will be.
Transactive Memory is a process by which two or more people in a group develop a shared system for encoding, storing, and retrieving information and where each person is responsible for memorizing only part of the total information. Groups with well-developed Transactive Memory Systems recall more task-related knowledge and make fewer errors than groups lacking well-developed memory systems. There is Extelligence at the level of the individual agents within a group - the group itself then becomes a form of Extelligence. However, a group that is low in Exformation is low in Group Intelligence, it has a poor Transactive Memory System, and it is a poor source of Extelligence. From such a group, a student will not get Insights, he will only get Outsights... An Outsight is a statement believed by the person who utters it to be an important or profound Insight, but which is in fact regarded by its audience as so obvious or elementary that it reveals the speaker as hopelessly ignorant or slow-witted, at least relative to the relevant group. A student will not usually gain much Extelligence from a group that is low in Group Intelligence.
The key concepts of Cognitive Fluidity (mapping across domains); Extelligence (externalizing memory workloads); and Scaffolding (extending the mind into the material world), maximize cognitive abilities. A simple example of Scaffolding: if you always have a watch on your wrist, you as-good-as know the time as you've expanded your memory into the environment. In a ubiquitous computing environment the new intelligence is Extelligence, "knowledge and tools that are outside people's heads." In such an environment the user needs textual, visual and corporal literacy, i.e. an awareness of Extelligence and a working knowledge of all the senses.
One day, Networked Extelligence will replace or supersede learned intelligence - in other words, we may not know, but we will know how to know. Extelligence is the totality of intelligent expressions made by humans. It is the contextual and cultural analogue of internal, personal intelligence. In preliterate societies, poetry was a tool for Extelligence, and poems were aide memoires; today computers perform this service. Humankind has been using Intelligence to create Extelligence since the dawn of civilization.
To benefit maximally from Extelligence, an individual should have good Systems Intelligence, and in many cases Cultural Intelligence may also be a prerequisite. An individual should interact with a person or system that has a high level of Exformation, then using his experience and knowledge he is able to unfold the Exformation in the system. Exformation is perpendicular to information. Exformation is everything we do not actually say but have in our heads when, or before, we say anything at all - whereas information is the measurable, demonstrable utterance we actually come out with. To communicate, you have to be able to express things in a way that matches the "Exformation" of the people you're talking to, then available Transactive Memory content will be high. Exformation-rich messages have depth in the sense that they call forth much with few symbols. The more Exformation shared by sender and receiver, the more compact a communication can be. Previous studies have provided evidence of the positive impact of Transactive Memory on group performances, such as the efficient storage and recall of knowledge. We make a fragment of the group thought-process portable and run it in our own reasoning and recall processes.
We as a species have been endowed by nature with an intelligence superior to all other species on Earth. However we have rarely applied more than a fraction of our potential for intelligence; we have abused technologies and engaged in enterprises that have allowed populations, pollution and use of resources to grow unchecked, creating vast ecological damage that threatens our very survival as a species. If we were as "dumb" as non-human species, nature would keep us better in check. But are we smart enough to correct for our destructive ways, overriding certain behaviors encoded in our DNA that once served our survival, but are inappropriate in our modern circumstances? The situation may be tragic, because intelligence evolves slowly, much slower than the rate at which ecological destruction occurs by our own hands. There is, however, hope. Technology has led to environmental harm but can also lead us out of the malaise. By a concerted process of widespread propagation on the Internet, we can make available the extelligence and wisdom to moderate and turn around our destructive behavioral traits. Personal and cognitive development will play an important role in this urgent mission, since human nature - the root of human behavior - will need to evolve very quickly indeed.
Note 1: Group intelligence refers to a process by which large numbers of people simultaneously converge upon the same point(s) of knowledge. James Surowiecki, in The Wisdom of Crowds, claims that, ironically, group intelligence requires independence of thought as well as superior judgment. Unlike herd behavior, Group Intelligence - like crowd wisdom - is a uniquely human phenomenon. And, unlike the terms herd behavior and herd mentality, Group Intelligence connotes more rational decision processes: based less upon emotional reactions and more upon knowledge and understanding.
Note 2: Cultural intelligence, cultural quotient or CQ, is a theory within management and organizational psychology, positing that understanding the impact of an individual's cultural background on their behavior is essential for effective business, and measuring an individual's ability to engage successfully in any environment or social setting. First described by Christopher Earley and Soon Ang in Cultural Intelligence: Individual Interactions Across Cultures, CQ is measured on a scale, similar to that used to measure an individual's intelligence quotient. People with higher CQ are regarded as better able to successfully blend in to any environment, using more effective business practices, than those with a lower CQ.
Foreign cultures are everywhere - in other countries, certainly, but also in corporations, vocations and regions. Interacting with individuals within them demands perceptiveness and adaptability. And the people who have those traits in abundance aren't necessarily the ones who enjoy the greatest social success in familiar settings. Sometimes, people who are somewhat detached from their own culture can more easily adopt the mores and even the body language of an unfamiliar host. They're used to being observers and making a conscious effort to fit in.
Note 3: Social intelligence, according to the original definition of Edward Thorndike, is "the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls, to act wisely in human relations." It is equivalent to interpersonal intelligence, one of the types of intelligences identified in Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Some authors have restricted the definition to deal only with knowledge of social situations, perhaps more properly called social cognition.
Epistemology investigates the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity. The term epistemic cognition refers to an individual's process of acquiring knowledge. It includes the ways an individual monitors the epistemic nature of problems and the truth value of alternative solutions. It includes the individual's knowledge about the limits of knowing, the certainty of knowing, and the criteria for knowing. It also includes the strategies used to identify and choose between the form of solution required for different problem types.
Epistemic rationality considers the adequate justification of beliefs, to be able to decide, at least provisionally, those beliefs that are true, those beliefs that are false and those which we are insufficiently informed to decide upon. In other words, epistemology addresses the question, "How do we know what we know?" What are the basic assumptions and premises that influence perception? Epistemology is always and inevitably personal - no person's mind operates as a blank screen, objectively recording his or her experience. All experience is processed through personalized filters that interpret that experience on the basis of unconscious presuppositions. As a result, each person's reality is constructed via a subjective process that is influenced by a number of factors, including genetics, upbringing and education, cultural forces and life experiences.
In spite of its subjectivity, a person's reality is real to him or her. Since the epistemological process by which that personal reality is constructed tends to be unconscious, the product of perception is rarely evaluated. Rather, it is typically equated with objective truth and allowed to influence the person's cognition accordingly. Any change, therefore, which does not address these deeper epistemological issues tends to be only superficial.
Individual and developmental differences in what it means to know something, and hence in the criteria for justifying knowledge claims, have potentially wide-ranging implications. In providing support for a claim, young children have difficulty differentiating explanation of why a claim makes sense and evidence that the claim is true. Epistemic understanding progresses developmentally, but substantial variation remains among adults, with few adults achieving understanding of the complementary strengths and weaknesses of evidence and explanation in argument. Epistemic understanding shapes intellectual values and hence the disposition (as opposed to competence) to exercise intellectual skills. Only its most advanced levels support a disposition to engage in the intellectual effort that reasoned argument entails.
Patricia King and Karen Kitchener (1994) described a scale of Reflective Judgment composed of seven distinct epistemic levels:
I. Pre-Reflective Thinking (Pre-Conventional)
Individuals who reason in pre-reflectively justify their opinions in a simple fashion because they fail to perceive that answers to a question may contain some elements of uncertainty.
Level 1: Beliefs need no justification since there is assumed to be an absolute correspondence between what is believed and what is true. Alternative beliefs are not recognized. Typical statement: "I know what I have seen." Summary: What I observe to be true is true. This is termed the “copy view of knowledge,” that knowledge is absolute.
Level 2: Beliefs are unexamined and unjustified or justified by their correspondence with the beliefs of an authority figure (such as a teacher or parent). Most issues are assumed to have a right answer, so there is little or no conflict in making decisions about disputed issues. Typical statement: "If it is on the news, it has to be true." Summary: There is a true reality that can be known, but not by everybody. Hence, the need for authorities who do know.
Level 3: In areas in which certain answers exist, beliefs are justified by reference to authorities' views. In areas in which answers do not exist, beliefs are defended as personal opinion since the link between evidence and beliefs is unclear. Typical statement: "When there is evidence that people can give to convince everybody one way or another, then it will be knowledge; until then, it's just a guess." Summary: Truth is temporarily inaccessible, even for authorities, but will be known at some point in time. In the meantime, rely on "feelings."
II. Quasi-Reflective Thinking (Conventional)
Individuals who reason in the middle levels of Reflective Judgment recognize that knowledge claims about ill-structured problems contain elements of uncertainty; thus, there is an understanding that some situations are truly problematic. The difficulty is in understanding how judgments ought to be made in light of this uncertainty. Often, individuals believe that while judgments ought to be based on evidence, valuation is individualistic and idiosyncratic. As such, individuals appear to believe that opinions are justified by making a judgment about the issue and then finding facts which support this conclusion; or by looking at all the conflicting evidence available and making a decision based on intuition, "gut instinct" or what "feels right;" or by choosing a given discipline or perspective on the topic and justifying a position based on the "rules of the game" for that discipline.
Level 4: Since there is no source of certainty for one's beliefs, beliefs are justified by giving reasons that are often idiosyncratic, such as choosing evidence that fits an established belief. Typical statement: "I'd be more inclined to believe evolution if they had proof. It's just like the pyramids: I don't think we'll ever know. Who are you going to ask? No one was there." Summary: Reality cannot be known with certainty and knowledge claims are purely idiosyncratic.
Level 5: Beliefs are justified within a particular context using the rules of inquiry for that context, with the understanding that justification is context-specific or that beliefs are balanced against each other. Each approach has the effect of complicating and delaying judgments. Typical statement: "People think differently and so they attack the problem differently. Other theories could be as true as my own, but based on different evidence." Summary: Objective reality doesn't exist; there is only the subjective interpretation of data. Beliefs are justified only within a domain where legitimate interpretations can be made, but no comparisons can be made across domains.
III. Reflective Thinking (Post-Conventional)
The reasoning typified in these levels reflects the epistemological assumption that one's understanding of the world is not "given" but must be actively constructed and that knowledge must be understood in relationship to the context in which it was generated. An additional assumption is that some interpretations or knowledge claims may be judged as more plausible than others. Thus, while absolute truth will never be ascertained with complete certainty, some views may be evaluated as more reasonable explanations. This view presumes that judgments must not only be grounded in relevant data, but that they must also be evaluated to determine their validity. Criteria used to make such evaluations include, for example: conceptual soundness, coherence, degree of fit with the data, meaningfulness, usefulness, and parsimony.
Levels 6: Beliefs are justified by comparing evidence and opinion on different sides of an issue or across contexts, and by constructing solutions that are evaluated by personally-endorsed criteria, such as one's personal values or the pragmatic need for action. Typical statement: "It's very difficult in this life to be sure. There are degrees of sureness. You come to a point at which you are sure enough for a personal stance on an issue." Summary: While objective knowledge is not possible, some claims can be judged as better founded than others. There are principles of inquiry that are generalizable across domains.
Level 7: Beliefs are justified probabilistically using evidence and arguments; conclusions are defended as representing the most complete, most compelling, or most plausible understanding of an issue available to date, based on the current evidence. Typical statement: "One can judge arguments by how well thought out the positions are, what kinds of reasoning and evidence are used to support it, and how consistent the way one argues on this topic is as compared with other topics." Summary: Interpretations of the world can be synthesized into claims about the nature of the world. Therefore, knowledge must be constructed. We need to build coherent explanations.
The higher levels of Reflective Judgment incorporate nonabsolute/relativistic thinking. This is a unifying feature of Postformal methods of higher-order thinking: problem finding, dialectical reasoning, relativistic operations, reflective judgment, and trialectic reasoning. Reflective thinking is related to measurable personality traits: thinking introversion, response bias, altruism, autonomy, complexity, and theoretical orientation.
The goal of Mind Development is Epistemic Rationality. Unless a student is one in a million, the highest levels such as Trialectic Reasoning and the Metavert State (described below) will only come into operation with outside help, for which we particularly recommend the Mind Development Courses.
The Dimensions of Mental Growth
There are eight parallel dimensions of mental growth that Mind Development has determined and all of our courses are designed to further development in each respect...
Development in the above dimensions is open ended. With suitable tools, barring brain damage, development can occur until a student is on his death bed.
- First Dimension
The ability to maintain attention over time to internal processes and external objects.
- Second Dimension
An increase in the power of voluntary mechanisms of inhibition, manifesting themselves in diverse ways.
- Third Dimension
An increase in the access of memory or awareness to verbal and voluntary processes.
- Fourth Dimension
The ability to deal with a universe of objects, ideas, words and hypotheses logically and serially and derived from this, the power to access randomly from a spatial or temporal sequence. This is the specific quality of the left hemisphere and, by and large, this quality is over-rewarded in the present culture.
- Fifth Dimension
The ability to superimpose dimensionality on the concrete situation, so one does not so much deal with events, but events in context. This is referred to as the power of synthesis - the special power of the right hemisphere.
- Sixth Dimension
A decline in emotional dependence on other humans, which is manifest as a growing awareness of the body-image. A decline in affective dependence leads ultimately to a transcendence of belief systems and morality systems, which are rooted in emotional dependence on significant others. In the sixth dimension there is an increase in both Field Independence and Inner Directedness. Note: a block to growth along this dimension manifests as a body-mind duality, susceptibility to hypnosis, and a repressive Superego.
- Seventh Dimension
An increase in speed capacity of the central nervous system (i.e. the frequency range of brain rhythms).
- Eighth Dimension
An increase in Cognitive Autonomy. This is the cognitive component in autonomy - one's ability to think for one's self. This would not normally occur until late adolescence, after Formal operational thought has been established. Only after acquiring cognitive autonomy can a student reach the fully individuated state of Ego Autonomy.
A change in quantity of these eight dimensions, when a critical threshold has been reached, will usher in a change in quality, manifest as a jump to a higher Stage of Ego Development - a student will move along to the next substage of Formal or Postformal Operations, until ultimately he reaches the Metavert State that is beyond Postformal Operations. In this way, the Eight Dimensions of Growth are like the accelerator in a car and the Stages of Cognitive Development described at the beginning of this paper are like the gearbox.
As well as progressing further on the Stages of Cognitive Development, a student who develops their mind in the dimensions just described, will also progress on the equivalent levels of Reflective Judgment, on Loevinger's stages of Ego Development, on Kohlberg's stages of Moral Development and progress on their Spiritual development and in overcoming the Superego. Furthermore, this will correspond with an increase in cognitive intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ).
Each of these progressions are the result of the mind acquiring a greater facility in perceptual and representational thought: in short, to be able to better handle mental complexity. Benjamin Bloom recognized a scale of mental complexity that covers the range from Pre-operational to Postformal Operations:
- Recognition: Remembering and labeling
- Knowledge: Recalling facts
- Comprehension: Understanding important concepts
- Application: Using what is known in a variety of situations
- Analysis: Understanding the whole through an examination of the constituent parts
- Synthesis: Making something new out of separate ideas
- Evaluation: Judging the value of an idea, concept, or project
Wisdom is the result of exceptional self-development, including Ego maturity and Postformal operational thinking. Postformal development is associated with the ability to think both objectively and dialectically, and to be able to accept and integrate inherent contradictions and alternative truths. The Postformal mind is also able to integrate the various aspects of the psyche (including recognition of all the aspects of self such as Superego, Id, Shadow and Anima). The previously hidden parts of the psyche contain unrealized potentials; for example, by retaining his masculinity but also now integrating his feminine traits, adopting an androgynous gender role, a man can benefit from both the masculine and feminine qualities, and the tempering effect each has on the other. Furthermore, higher levels of Ego maturity are associated with greater recognition of negative aspects of self; self esteem does not suffer from acknowledging those aspects of personality or mental skills that need positive developmental work.
Unresolved personality issues can certainly have a profound effect on IQ. Lester Gelb tells the story of a young boy who had been the victim of poor teachers and exploitive foster homes, and as a result he was depressed and 'unmanageable.' He clearly felt isolated and misunderstood, but no-one was listening. His IQ was 79 at age 11. After Lester's acknowledgement of the appropriateness of his anger, the boy's attitude was transformed and he was ready to accept educational opportunities. His IQ had risen to 129 by age 17 and he went on to make a successful career.
The techniques of Mind Development are one of the best ways to stimulate intellectual development after the age of twenty and to achieve Individuation: a strong and mature Ego that is capable of metacognition, Postformal operations and beyond.
Cognitive Fixity and Fluidity
Cognitive fluidity is a term first popularly applied by Steven Mithen in his book The Prehistory of the Mind, a search for the cognitive origins of Art, Religion and Science. The book describes how a limited primate mind has evolved into modern human mind by combining different ways of process knowledge and using tools to create a modern civilization. By arriving at original thoughts, which are often highly creative and rely on metaphor and analogy modern humans differ from archaic humans. As such, cognitive fluidity is a key element of the human attentive consciousness. Let us examine the primitive mind, going right back to the Stone Ages. There were three Stone Ages: the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic; three epochs that were universal and of sufficient magnitude that they could change the way the human mind operates.
The term Paleolithic or Old Stone Age refers to a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of the first stone tools. It covers the greatest portion of humanity's time (roughly 99% of human history) on Earth, extending from 2.5 or 2.6 million years ago, with the introduction of stone tools by hominids such as Homo habilis, to the introduction of agriculture and the end of the Pleistocene around 20,000 BC. The Paleolithic era ended with the Mesolithic, in Western Europe, and in areas not affected by the Ice Age with the Epipaleolithic (such as Africa). During the Paleolithic Stone Age, man developed a Swiss Knife Modular Mind. (He was in a state of Cognitive Fixity). He had a number of self-contained, domain-specific solutions to the problems of survival, that were fast and inflexible. These were applied in a fixed way, without appraisal by general intelligence, therefore little progress occurred over thousands of years.
By 20,000 to 18,000 BC the climate and environment had changed, starting a period of transition that we call the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. The forest vegetation retreated, to be replaced by steppe. The hunter-gatherers would have had to modify their way of living and their pattern of settlement to adapt to the changing conditions. During the Mesolithic Stone Age, man had a Bicameral mind and started to develop Partial Cognitive Fluidity. This was a transitional phase between Cognitive Fixity and Cognitive Fluidity in which the mind was Bicameral in operation: the experiences and memories of the right hemisphere of the brain are transmitted to the left hemisphere via auditory hallucinations. Cognitive functions were divided between a right hemisphere center which appears to be "speaking," and a passive left hemisphere which listens and obeys. Similar to that of a modern-day schizophrenic, rather than making conscious evaluations in novel or unexpected situations, the person would hallucinate a voice or "god" giving admonitory advice or commands, and obey these voices without question; one would not be at all conscious of one's own thought processes per se. The Bicameral mind gave rise to the phenomenon of shamanism and later, starting in about 10,000 B.C., religion.
The Neolithic or New Stone Age, began about 10,000 B.C. in the Middle East. The Neolithic way of life included farming, herding, polished stone axes, timber longhouses and pottery. The Neolithic era ended when metal tools became widespread in the Copper, Bronze or Iron Age - depending on geographical region. During the Neolithic Stone Age, man started to develop the modern mind with full Cognitive Fluidity, a process that has continued until the present day - an awakening from the Bicameral Mind! The Bicameral mental model was replaced by the conscious mode of thought, grounded in the acquisition of metaphorical language, self-awareness and introspection through development of the left hemisphere. Cognitive fluidity generates imagination, the capacity for symbolic thought , and the creative ability to generate complex mental symbols. The Ego arises from the brain's cortical cognitive fluidity. Elements of the Bicameral mentality remain in primitive people and "psychics."
Between about 4,000 B.C. to about 1,200 A.D. the entire world was theocratic: the world was explained in terms of the will of personified deities. According to Auguste Comte, theocracy developed in three stages:
Through contact with the writings of Aristotle, Plato and other non-Christian sources of philosophy that were reluctantly tolerated by the Catholic Church, Western society gradually gained emancipation from theocratic thinking, and this lead to the Renaissance, scientific thinking and the Age of Enlightenment, and in the eighteenth century, the start of the modern era, leading to fully modern consciousness. Over the last 200 years, this has spread over most of the world, coexisting with the influence of fundamentalist, monotheist religious societies (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc). There also remain communities with polytheistic and animist beliefs.
- Animism - Regarding natural phenomena and everyday items as worthy of religious worship, perhaps with godlike qualities. This Naturalistic outlook is a form of pre-conventional spiritual intelligence, which aligns with Concrete Operations.
- Polytheism - Explanation of the world through the influence of many gods.
- Monotheism - Attributing all to a single, supreme deity, resulting in systems of government in which priests rule in the name of a God. This becomes the convention, the Normative outlook. The Monotheistic stage started with the Jews at about 4000BC: Christianity, and Islam came much later of course. Prior to that time, societies were either Animistic or Polytheistic.
Only those capable of thinking beyond Formal Operations, the educated and open-minded thinkers of the time, demonstrate an autonomous search for Existential (post-conventional) understanding and values beyond those dictated by a personalised deity. At the other extreme, the primitive Bicameral mind is totally under the control of the Superego, which is experienced as the voices of gods or demons. Bicameral man has very little ego, so he does not think as we do. The fact that a person can have a lobotomy (the removal of the frontal lobes), and retain a Superego, indicates that the Superego is in the right hemisphere, in the parietal lobe. Once the frontal lobes take over, because a person has reached full cognitive maturity, the voice of the Superego becomes weak or non existent.
In some primitive cultures, the Formal stage of operations is seldom reached since there are not the language and educational demands, and so a further intuitive phase of the Concrete Operational stage may become manifest, and the concrete cognitive structures may be sufficiently mature to operate intuitively. Concrete Intuition is a missing stage in advanced cultures, because due to the influence of education the students progress quickly from Concrete Operations toward Formal Operations, or at least, the education system attempts to achieve that; on the other hand, Concrete Intuition is the mental state of shamans and witchdoctors and the Dream Time of the Australian Aborigine. In the state of Concrete Intuition, they have special powers and savant abilities. When manifest, this state is also similar to certain states of hypnosis. In these states, the hypnotized subject has greatly increased physical strength, heightened perception and an extended field of memory. There is much similarity between the awareness of people at the Concrete Intuitive level and the "no-mind" state described in Zen literature.
In my opinion, people who are still in a state of Bicameral Consciousness have eidetic imagery (outstanding concrete memory) and operate (at best) at the level of Concrete Intuition, in which perception and memory are undifferentiated. Concrete Intuition is therefore the endpoint of development for people living in primitive cultures. The commonest form of outstanding memory in primitive man is topographical memory, or recollection of a particular place or route. It retains an image, complete down to the tiniest details, that enables primitive man to find his way with an assurance Europeans regard as astonishing. Similarly the native would know instantly if a member of their herd was missing, without having to count linearly.
Cognitive Fluidity (also termed Flexibility) has a direct impact on people's ability to adapt and respond effectively to new or unfamiliar problems, and this development was essential to move beyond a primitive way of life. Cognitive fluidity hinges on a readiness to direct attention to novel events, to think differently, and to change one's mental set to find new solutions for old problems.
Beyond the development of a theocratic worldview, where religion is the dominant force, the French philosopher Comte (facing at his time the ruins of the French Revolution) postulated that a society will develop through two more stages...
- After the Theological stage in which man blindly believed in whatever he was taught by his ancestors, comes the Metaphysical stage: a recognition that Man has universal rights, not dependent upon any deity. This is therefore the beginning of investigation from a point of view of autonomy, in which people start reasoning and questioning all that they have previously believed, even though they may not have much solid evidence to build upon. This stage is the beginning of a world that questions authority and religion.
- In the Scientific stage, further evidence is sought, so that people can find solutions to the social problems that remain, even despite the proclamations of human rights or supposed destiny that is the will of God. The scientific method would be applied to social, ecological and economic issues, as well as the physical. It is a Positivist outlook that in Comte's epoch helped to launch the subject of sociology.
In modern times, to be successful a person needs to be able to think independently, objectively and flexibly, to be able to interweave abstract and specific thoughts appropriately and skillfully. This has been described as a "Helicopter Mind." Hold an image of a helicopter in your mind that moves up (towards abstract) when a WHY question is asked and moves down (towards specific) when a HOW question is asked. You ask WHY questions to review an activity in terms of its purpose, value and desired outcome. You ask HOW questions to review activities in terms of their method, process and skills involved.
Particularly at times of stress, thinking tends to become more "black and white," rigidly attached to concrete specifics, like a man overboard holding onto a floating plank of wood. In this state, there is an inability to turn one's attention away from a dominant stimulus or to pay attention to more than one stimulus at a time, in order to benefit from verbal self-regulation and even verbal instructions received. It leads to an inability to change behavior according to an intelligent response, and inability to formulate different hypotheses when solving problems. At an extreme, suicidal individuals suffer from cognitive rigidity, which leads them to believe that suicide is their only option.
Chronic stress is also closely tied with physical health problems. Such stress may be due to overwork or particularly difficult circumstances, but also may be self-imposed by inner conflicts between beliefs that are rigidly attached to and the evidence of objective reality, and many other such psychological factors. Such psychological stress is increased by cognitive inflexibility, preventing perception of the reality of problems, and the stress itself increases the inflexibility further. Health problems such as depression, diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, obesity, ulcers and possibly even cancer can result, and affect life expectancy.
At Mind Development, we have noticed that a significant number of students, such as retired taxi drivers, have been over the age of 60 when they started Mind Development, yet they have made significant gains in their studies. Some entered a new profession, and more than a few lived to be over 90. Mind Development may have contributed to their longevity. I believe that unless you are senile, you are never too old to start developing your mind, and there will be benefits all around.
Although Cognitive Fluidity/Flexibility is not measured by an IQ test, it is an important dimension of real world intelligence, and the same applies to Cognitive Complexity...
Cognitive complexity is a psychological characteristic that indicates how complex or simple is the frame and perceptual skill of a person. A person who measures high on cognitive complexity tends to perceive nuances and subtle differences which a person with a lower measure, indicating a less complex cognitive structure for the task or activity, does not.
Jane Loevinger's ego development theory proposes that individuals progress through a series of stages that reflect increased levels of cognitive complexity and ego maturity. Loevinger proposes that the level of ego functioning influences how an individual perceives and interprets personal experiences and interpersonal relationships. The personal ideals that are important to an individual may also be influenced by their cultural context: the larger social community and religious beliefs.
In 1994, Harvard University Professor Robert Kegan wrote the book In Over Our Heads, which demonstrates that human development is in part a response to the changing demands of social environments, that the skills required for living a coherent life in modern western societies are different from those required by simpler, tribal cultures. We become more complex as the demands of our environment require such complexity.
Robert Kegan summarized the incremental process of increasing complexity of the subject-object relationship, which he calls The Five Orders of Increasing Mental Complexity:
When we are infants (1st Level), we experience a lack of differentiation between subject and object. In short, we are one with the world. However, as we grow, our capacity to distinguish ourselves from the exterior world develops. Kegan calls this process one of increasing "object permanence." In the overall trajectory up the levels, Kegan has noticed a fascinating trend in human cognitive development: at one stage that which is subjective in our awareness later becomes objective in our awareness. In other words, something that we are not aware of at Level 2 (because it is embedded in our subjective awareness), we later become aware of objectively... we can take a perspective on it, hold it as external to our own experience, and take responsibility for it, because we are no longer captive to it.
- 1st Level: Fantasy, impulse, single-point of view, immediate, atomistic
- 2nd Level: Concrete-operational, role-concept, durable category
- 3rd Level: Traditionalism, role consciousness, reciprocity, trans-categorical
- 4th Level: Modernism, abstraction, ideology, multiple roles, system/complex
- 5th Level: Post-Modernism, dialectical, trans-ideological, trans-system/complex
As we develop mentally, we become increasingly objective in our perceptions of the world, eventually resulting in the ability to entertain multiple points of view simultaneously and to synthesize them. We become capable of imagining many scenarios and possibilities, and our own personal perspective takes on a certain degree of relativity in relationship to the multiple perspectives of the outside world.
Persons who are capable of complex analytical thinking are able to differentiate a situation into many constituent elements, and then explore connections and potential relationships among the elements. They are more flexible and creative in their thinking. The more the elements constituting a situation can be differentiated and the parts considered in novel relationships, the more refined the problem-solving response and successful the solution.
It is my opinion that a person's level of mental complexity is the common factor between Piaget's stages of cognitive development and Loevinger's stages of Ego development. One cannot reach a post-conventional level of Ego development, until one has reached the post-formal stage of cognitive development.
Beyond Postformal operations: Mature Intuition and the Metavert State
The formal approach to consciousness, simplistically, recognizes identity as the fundamental element. It allows for a fixed, static, identifiable world. In a formal world we can know what to expect. In dialectics the resolution of two elements (thesis and antitheses) occurs due to contradiction or conflict resolving into a new thesis (and thus creating a new antithesis). The process goes on and on. Moving beyond dialectic argument, however, we can look at the pros and cons of an argument trialectically. These two elements exist but are viewed in a qualitatively different way, and the resolution between them is through complementarity or cooperation, giving rise to a higher degree of insight. Students will get glimpses of this higher realm, a taste of true wisdom, just as they may have peak experiences that offer a glimpse into the transpersonal or spiritual aspects of their being, but serious work with the techniques of Mind Development will increasingly make this a daily experience and domain general, rather than just in a specific area of expertise.
Trialectic reasoning is the transitional phase between the fifth stage of Postformal Operations and the sixth stage of intellectual development, Mature Intuition.
When Postformal Operations have been internalized, practiced to the degree of effortless competence, on not just a domain-specific (one's area of expert knowledge and competence) but on a domain-general basis, a sixth stage of development then naturally follows, called Mature Intuition. Work on the advanced courses of Mind Development will be of invaluable assistance in this process. When this stage is reached, all significant cognitive structures of the first five stages have sufficient maturity to be utilized pre-reflectively or intuitively. The individual can then make use of his creative and intuitive skills to become a breakthrough thinker and leader.
This state transcends introvert and extravert orientations - it is 'Metavert' - the individual can chose introspective introversion or expressive extraversion, as appropriate to his circumstances and needs. He has no neurotic compulsions nor inhibitions regarding one or the other; he is essentially free of Superego control. He can focus internally or externally at will, rather than being driven by the conditioning of his experiences and upbringing.
One may ask the question, "Does all thought take place in words?" It should now be evident that it is a question of degree. When we are dealing with a low level of abstraction, concerning concrete objects, we may think entirely without words. As we ascend the ladder of abstraction, words form an increasing part of our mental content. It may appear, from superficial observation, that people operate non-verbally at high levels of abstraction. In most cases this is an illusion... some form of imagery is being used, as a surrogate language. There is, however, Intuitive Thinking. This is not thinking in the same sense; it consists of mental operations at high speed, often in parallel and outside the frame of consciousness. At the cognitive level of Mature Intuition, words are sometimes used; however, because of the speed of the process - typically the speed of thought exceeds 1,200 words per minute and continues subcognitively - and because the process occurs largely outside of awareness as an intuitive process, there is an illusion of non-verbal thought. We can't think in terms of the speed of inner speech anymore, because in this Metavert state, thinking is transverbal.
Thought, in the Metavert state of Mature Intuition is post-symbolic and post-reflective - it is beyond language and beyond the scale of Reflective Judgment given above. The Metavert does not have to think reflectively, he just knows - all the reflective judgments are being made at high speed beneath the surface of consciousness, an intuitional process. He has access to the contents of both the affective and the cognitive subconscious as resources for intuition (see The Cognitive Unconscious).
The Metavert state of Mature Intuition is not a transpersonal state; there is no sense of union with the Infinite and God. One, however, is illuminated in a certain sense. In the Metavert state one operates at a higher harmonic of intelligence, that of Certainty. Most of a Metavert's thinking is intuitive; by this I mean that one perceives, poses and resolves problems intuitively. Most of a Metavert's thinking is transverbal and visual; one is thinking in meanings rather than words; one only needs to think conventionally when one makes conclusions and in order to explain things to another person. One can do this easily, because one retains access to all the skills of Formal and Postformal thought, so much of one's experience at the Metavert level can be translated into words.
At this final stage of mind development the intellect is integrated with feeling and both of these functions are put on automatic. The remaining active thinking continues the level of the Ego or conscious self. However, the functioning of the Ego itself becomes witnessed - a higher and transcendent state of consciousness. One of the hallmarks of this state is that the self is not involved with the world. Thinking, feeling and perception can function below the level of conscious attention, just as muscular motor coordination is generally automatic and apparently unconnected to attentional processing. The entire brain literally runs in parallel, and attention ceases to be a bottleneck in any cognitive processes; attention moves to the witnessing meta-intelligence.
'Dynamic' consciousness means an ability on the part of the person concerned to be in the appropriate state of attention for the task in hand. Much of the current New Age movement is held in thrall by the attainment of 'ideal' states of consciousness, in particular a static state of right-brain awareness combined with a predominantly Alpha (relaxed) meditative detachment. Whilst this state has objective existence, and is different from the states of awareness experienced by most people most of the time, it is nonetheless comparable to a still photograph from the motion picture of life, or a still point at the extremity of the swing of a pendulum. It is only an ideal state for operating in particular contexts, but as real life is not static, we are continually changing from one context to another, and we need to be able to adjust our state of consciousness to be optimal for each situation.
The true meaning of 'raised consciousness' is the ability to rapidly and under one's own volition, attain the most appropriate state of consciousness for any circumstances.
The primary signaling system in the brain is the sensori-motor (first program) centered in the lower brain and controlling energetic responses and feelings. This is common to all animals. The secondary system, peculiar to man, is mediated by the frontal cortex and it reflects the primary impulses in the form of symbolic representations that may be communicated. Our present level of awareness is mainly restricted to this second system.
Intelligence develops from childhood in the way outlined by Piaget, starting with the sensori-motor stage from birth. A pre-logical, intuitive stage follows this while the child learns how best to adapt to the environment. By the age of five, when he goes to school, concrete imagery enables him to think constructively, then from about seven years of age language and other symbolic left-brain means of analysis are developed. The further development of this stage, that of formal operations, seems to be cut off when active education ceases, and that fixes the current scenario as a status-quo. However, Postformal Operations may develop between 18 and 30 in about 5% of the population who are in appropriately stimulating environments. It is postulated further intellectual development would lead to an advanced intuitional state, that of mature intuition. This is the state of whole-brain synchrony we call the Metavert state.
The human brain is not a finished organ at birth -- in fact, another 10 or 12 years are needed before even a general development is completed. Structural maturation of individual brain regions and their connecting pathways is required for the successful development of cognitive, motor, and sensory functions. This maturation eventually provides for a smooth flow of neural impulses throughout the brain, which allows for information to be integrated across the many spatially segregated brain regions involved in these functions.
The speed of neural transmission is an important factor, and this depends not only on the junctions between nerve cells (synapses), but also on the structural properties of the connecting fibers (axons). Critical axon structural properties include their diameters and the thickness of the special insulation (myelin) around many fibers. Large groups of myelinated axons, which connect various regions in the brain, appear visibly as "white matter". Axons of the major pathways in the human brain, such as those of the corpus callosum (which connects the two halves of the brain) or the corticospinal tract (which connects the brain to the spinal cord and the rest of the body), continue to develop throughout childhood and adolescence. Postmortem studies suggest that axon diameters and myelin sheaths undergo conspicuous growth during the first two years of life, but may not be fully mature before adolescence or even late adulthood.
The science of intelligence testing is now over one hundred years old. So long a time, in fact, that test subjects (typically high school students in the nineteen fifties) can be retested in order to compare results from today to those of fifty years ago. The results? Most people get smarter as they age. Or, perhaps better said, they test higher, as much as ten points higher, than when they were in their teens.
New findings seem to contradict one of the most widely accepted assumptions about aging: that the human brain is at its most powerful between the ages of 18 and 26. Scientists have discovered that intelligence, instead of peaking in our youth, remains stable and, in some respects, gets sharper as we grow older.
Note: Myelination is an important process in the nervous system as it helps to increase the speed at which action potentials propagate along axons efficiently. More intelligent brains show faster nerve conduction, less glucose utilization in positron emission tomography, faster reaction times, faster inspection times, faster speeds in general, greater circumference and volume, smaller standard deviation in reaction times, greater variability in EEG measures, shorter white matter T2 relaxation times, and higher gray-white matter contrast with magnetic resonance imaging. Researchers at Oxford observed with brain imaging that, when people learn a new skill (juggling), the white matter in their brain increased. This increase in white matter is most likely due to myelination. In other words, the brain is capable of increase myelin in response to learning even into adulthood.
Our current level of maturation is such that the signaling rate of our secondary system has only about a quarter of the reaction speed of the primary system. This means that our peculiar type of human consciousness can only exist by actively inhibiting the lower, primary (limbic) system. When the secondary system is switched off, as in hypnotism and shamanic trance states, the primary system is accessible to the hypnotist and its animalistic powers cause the strange phenomena of shamanic ritual. But this is not self-directed power, the individual is 'out to lunch'.
Should a way be found to activate primary consciousness while we are at a normal level of integration, the higher centers would be swamped with input that could not be processed. Restricted to formal operations conducted logically and serially, we would be compulsively in desperate cope in present time and unable to inhibit responses to incoming stimuli selectively. This is the state that a Kung-Fu or Karate expert is able to attain momentarily, in order to deliver a blow with the full force of the sensori-motor system and with the level of accuracy possible in this heightened mode of sensory acuity. A fraction of a second would seem like several seconds at this speed of signaling - time would stand still.
"Close analysis of brain tissue and MRIs clearly shows that the brain's wiring develops until middle age and then begins to decline as the breakdown of myelin triggers a destructive domino affect. Our time at the peak is short indeed," according to brain researcher Bartzokis. "The challenge for science and medicine is to figure out how to extend the brain's peak performance so that our minds function as long as our bodies."
The idea that the brain continues to mature and develop connections well into adulthood provides some exciting possibilities for the practical application of neuropsychological studies. Not only are we developing an increasingly detailed picture of the activity within our brains, we also are learning more about what factors can negatively or positively affect the way our brains function. Some factors, very prevalent in a adolescent's life, such as anxiety, sleep deprivation, dehydration, and inactivity can seriously impair their executive functioning as adults, which plays such an important role in creating and maintaining goal-directed activity.
Research shows that the three parts of the brain that are most heavily involved in ADHD are the areas of the brain that also control motor activity. Due to the overlap between motor and mental control, activities that encourage aerobic exercise, strengthening, and stretching, stimulate the executive brain. Also, there is evidence that motor control can be improved through patterned programmed movements thought to be particularly beneficial for executive functioning, which include martial arts, yoga, dance, swimming, and drumming.
With the application of advanced Mind Development techniques, the higher cortex becomes more developed. There is both a better specialization and delegation of functions, and a greater degree of integration of those functions, with whole-brain synchrony of dominant wavelengths, so that the degree of inhibition of primary centers can be reduced. Ultimately the secondary system of higher centers can fully integrate with the sensori-motor mode of consciousness. With the mature intuition of developed Metaversion, the higher centers will be able to undertake many operations simultaneously in parallel; linear thinking will be complemented by fully developed lateralism.
Note: The speed of thought and abundance of creativity that accompanies Metaversion has superficial resemblance to the abilities that frequently accompany mania. Like the Metavert, a person who has become manic has overcome the Superego; however, due to a lack of Ego strength and maturity he fails to make the transition to a higher stage of consciousness - a creative consciousness; he remains bound and driven by the instinctive impulses of the Id, which are no longer moderated by the Superego. A warning: when there has been insufficient cognitive development to build Ego strength, overcoming the Superego by the use of drugs - or by any other means that does not strengthen the Ego - can lead to Mania.
True wisdom is realized during this sixth stage of Mind Development. Mature Intuition involves determining and mastering one's epistemic beliefs, to go beyond metacognition into the realm of meta-metacognition.
This 'arch-faculty' of our highest-level self remains awake and aware of the unique subjective perceptions defining our person, and can manipulate our perceptions almost as though senior to them. Thus one's personal epistemology becomes a conscious process - one becomes the 'meta-programmer' of one's own mind - and one can apply the same, more objective intelligence to recognizing, defining and solving life problems.
Ontology is the flip side of the coin from epistemology. Epistemology is concerned with the process by which the knowledge of reality is ascertained, whereas ontology is a systematic account of the nature of what exists, including that of oneself and other entities. Ontological beliefs include issues of identity and represent an even higher level than epistemic beliefs - a sort of meta meta-metacognition. Although largely unconscious, ontological belief systems that are held at the conscious level tend to include many beliefs held with strong emotion, because they have been found in past experience to serve the person well, to gain safety, control, esteem or rightness - to be 'top dog.' Such 'privileged' beliefs are near synonymous with a person's identity. A person will say: "I cannot change this belief without changing who I am." In the early days of Christianity, believers would allow themselves to be thrown to the lions, rather than embracing paganism and giving up their beliefs. Likewise, in Russia, people have been willing to face a firing squad, rather than pretend they are communists.
From a Mind Development point of view, a person's ontological beliefs delimit the range of epistemic beliefs available to him. In turn, a person's epistemic beliefs influence his metacognition and so on, all the way down the line. For this reason, ontological beliefs are the hardest to deal with.
Beliefs are central to our sense of who we are, our sense of self and identity. Some beliefs (both ontological and epistemic) are conscious and easily accessible, others are deeply embedded. Beliefs and therefore identity become habits. Beliefs originate in the cultures in which we are embedded. Beliefs define who we are - and who we are not. Our mental models determine our unconscious epistemology, our unconscious assumptions about the world and how we give meaning to experience. They can both support alignment with life's pattern and obstruct it. To flow with life's unfolding pattern requires us to become more conscious of our unconscious epistemology. If we can recognize the patterning running through our models of the world, we can use our mental modeling to undo and update some of its earlier work.
Ontological Intelligence may be described as the ability to recognize one's currently adopted identity and the reasons for its adoption, and the changes of identity that occur reactively or proactively in new circumstances, and the identities of the organizations of which one is a member; plus the willingness to transcend any egotistical barriers to effective listening, learning and reconsideration of identity issues.
Ontological intelligence precedes and is more fundamental that epistemological intelligence, as it is the being of the human being. It is the foundation for the individual's assumed roles in life, and as ontological intelligence develops, new boundariess and paradigms become available for the expansion of knowledge and skills, and expression of epistemological intelligence. Acknowledging the importance of an ontological framework for education shifts its primary intention and attention from knowing to being.
Because of limits in human mental capacity, the mind cannot cope directly with the complexity of the world. Rather, we construct a simplified mental model of reality - within a bounded or limited rationality - and then work with this model. We may behave rationally within the confines of our mental model, but this model is not always well adapted to the requirements of the real world, and does not enable us to understand what is truly going on.
Beyond the stage of meta-metacognition, Full Realization is a transpersonal state in which one recognizes and takes responsibility for the hidden spiritual sources of all conditions of existence - this is a goal for achievement on the The Insight Project course. It arises from work on determining and clarifying with trialectical thought processes one's internal belief systems about issues of identity: one's ontological awareness.
Ontological Intelligence is in agreement with reality; one's map of the world, representing both subjective (mental) and objective (physical) dimensions, closely correlates with or duplicates that which actually exists. Psychological defenses such as alterations and negations of reality have been superseded. The boundaries and limitations become broken down. The goal of the The Insight Project course is ontological rationality.