According to this 2016 Inc magazine article

Now, studies show that there is something you can do to dramatically improve your fluid intelligence as well as your overall IQ: meditate.

That's correct: Meditation is not just good for your physiological health, reducing stress, improving mood, and setting you up for emotional equilibrium rather than reactivity.

It can also make you significantly smarter.

This is repeated, more generally, in a number of other web-sites: e.g. EOC Institute, Best Brain Possible.

Do studies show meditation increases IQ?

  • 2
    @CPerkins: I hope that is sufficient. Inc.com has a fairly large readership.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 13:16
  • @Oddthinking : Neurofeedback training isn't what most people have in mind when they hear the phrase meditation. The article doesn't even claim that the average neurofeedback training has such an effect but that a specific course has it. If we want to stick to that article, the title of the question should be different.
    – Christian
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 13:54
  • @Christian: Gah! That's frustrating. Ok, I think most people reading the articles would walk away thinking meditation (as most people understand it) boosts IQ, so even if this article says in the fine print that they are talking about another sort of thing, we should address that as a claim. Your comment would then form a basis for an answer showing it was false. I'll edit the quote to focus on the big claim.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 14:51
  • "Intelligence" is ill defined and while there are many competing definitions one usually does not specify which one is currently used. So having high "fluid intelligende" is basically a worthless claim.
    – BlueWizard
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


The 23 points of IQ mentioned in the Inc. article trace back to this study performed with only two test subjects and employing EEG biofeedback, not standard meditation techniques. The headline of the Inc. article is pure nonsense.

As far as a general positive effect on IQ , the most directly relevant peer-reviewed study I could find was this review, "The Cumulative Effects of Transcendental Meditation on Cognitive Function--a Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials" published in 2003. While it found 107 studies related to this particular form of meditation (transcendental meditation or TM) only 10 were randomized and controlled trials. The results are not very convincing and may even suggest the opposite:

Of the 10 trials included, 4 reported large positive effects of TM on cognitive function, four were completely negative, and 2 were largely negative in outcome. All 4 positive trials recruited subjects from among people favourably predisposed towards TM, and used passive control procedures. The other 6 trials recruited subjects with no specific interest in TM, and 5 of them used structured control procedures. The association observed between positive outcome, subject selection procedure and control procedure suggests that the large positive effects reported in 4 trials result from an expectation effect. The claim that TM has a specific and cumulative effect on cognitive function is not supported by the evidence from randomised controlled trials.

As I discuss in a related question, there is other kinds of evidence to support other kinds of meditation may have cognitive benefits. But regarding the specific claim about IQ, it does not seem to be directly supported.

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