Can You Get Smarter?

Posted on October 31, 2015

Cognitive decline is a nearly universal feature of aging. Starting at age 55, our hippocampus, a brain region critical to memory, shrinks 1 to 2 percent every year. The very notion of cognitive enhancement is seductive and plausible. After all, the brain is capable of change and learning at all ages. Our brain has remarkable neuroplasticity; that is, it can remodel and change itself in response to various experiences and injuries. So can it be trained to enhance its own cognitive prowess?

The multibillion-dollar brain training industry certainly thinks so and claims that you can increase your memory, attention and reasoning just by playing various mental games. In other words, use your brain in the right way and you’ll get smarter.

A joint study by BBC and Cambridge University neuroscientists put brain training to the test a few years ago. Scores on the benchmark test, for which subjects could not train, did not significantly increase at the end of the study. There was, however a glimmer of hope for subjects age 60 and above. Unlike the younger participants, older subjects showed a significant improvement in verbal reasoning, one of the components of the benchmark test, after just six weeks of brain training.

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Category(s):Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions, Aging & Geriatric Issues

Source material from NY Times