Increasing Your Brain Power?

There are many tools people use to keep their mind sharp. For some it is the cross word puzzle in the paper or chess or playing a musical instrument. Now there are electronic games specifically from Nintendo called Brain Age that markets itself as tool implying it will improve your chances of staving off Alzheimer’s. But is keeping your mind sharp the same as improving its overall ability?

There is an article posted on Guardian by Emine Saner that argues against the true ability of the examples I listed. The article, called Is brain training really the best way to boost your IQ,? points out that much of the success people see from repeatedly playing these games is from practice and pattern recognition, not necessarily from from unlocking new abilities. I agree with this point of view to an extent. It is very focused on a certain type of thought, but there are multiple types. What tends to be valued now and called intelligence is closer to how scientists think – using deductive and inductive reasoning. But there is social intelligence and creative intelligence as well (there are more beyond those two as well). I could argue that those two are actually more valuable to society because the payout is multifaceted, but that is for another day.

But back to the cognitive portion of the brain. The NY Times ran an article recently called Memory Training Shown to Turn Up Brainpower by Nicholas Bakalar. This article describes a medical study that observed (deductive and inductive reasoning) volunteers complete comprehensive memory games that adjusted to their ability (constantly challenging them) and then had them take tests. The results show an improvement because of the memory games. There was a control group as well so the two results were compared to make sure that the results weren’t just from better test taking from experience. But as I mentioned above, it is just one type of thinking that is being improved.

To repeat what Saner says in the Guardian, getting outside and interacting with others is also a good way to improve your brain.


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