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Brain Training: Increase Your IQ With Mental Exercises June 13, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Transhumanism.
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It’s pretty well established that physical exercise is not only good for your body but has tangible benefits for your brain as well.  Not only does the increased blood flow help supply your brain with the oxygen and nutrients it needs but the act of learning a new physical feat aids in the growth and proliferation of neurons.  Wonderful as the benefits are though I know I’m not the only one who is always searching for another way to boost mental acumen.  Stimulants and nootropics are a good start but have the disadvantage of being short lasting a tied to the substance.  What if there were a way to strengthen your brain the same way you strengthen your muscles?

Brain training games have long and not entirely distinguished history.  Long touted as a way to boost one’s IQ there is still a large amount of debate as to how useful they are.  While there is little doubt those who play them improve over the course of time and do better on standardized IQ tests but the questions of whether or not those specific improvements translate to more general benefits is still unproven.

Of course that hasn’t stopped people from trying them and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I routinely play them myself (lumosity.com in case you were wondering).  Thankfully research into the has continued and in recent years has been coming down in their favor.  Case in point:

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that it’s possible to boost a core feature of human intelligence through a simple mental training exercise.

In fact, when several dozen elementary- and middle-school kids from the Detroit area used this exercise for 15 minutes a day, many showed significant gains on a widely used intelligence test. Most impressive, perhaps, is that these gains persisted for three months, even though the children had stopped training.

The game itself is a pretty simple memory/spatial skills test but the important things here are the length of the benefit (find me a physical exercise that keeps its improvements for three months) and the evidence it brings to the further efficacy of mental training regimes.

If the evidence continues to pile up it raises an interesting question; should mental training be part of our education system?  PE is already standard fare at most high schools, though sadly this is changing due to budget cuts, and it might be time to have a dedicated ME class alongside math, history and science.  Perhaps such a class could involve not only brain training but also instruction in the laws of logic, forms of reasoning and how to avoid committing fallacies.  In short a class that instructs students in the proper way to think.

This is actually something that has long struck me as a flaw in our education system.  Despite all the bluster about giving kids meaningful experiences during school (usually while unfairly demonizing memorization, but that’s for another time) we do precious little to develop analytic skills in our youth.  Considering the importance that logic and rhetoric played in classical education it is perplexing and disappointing that such skills have largely gone by the wayside.

What we need is for a school to experiment with this, to take a group of students and look for improvements in test scores and performance in general school subjects before and after such a class.  Once the benefit to the students has been quantified hopefully we’ll see an explosion of these kind of classes.  Who knows, it may even have unforeseen tangible benefits like the end of Fox News due to lack of viewership.



1. Brain Training: Increase Your IQ With Mental Exercises | Γονείς σε Δράση - June 13, 2011

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