Always On: Does brain-training make you smarter?
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Always On: Does brain-training make you smarter?

4:55 /

Think of brain-training as an awesome workout for your brain. Molly Wood visits Posit Science and Lumosity to see if these games can indeed improve her memory and increase her attention span.

-The thinking behind Brain Training, get it, is that playing scientifically designed games over time can enhance your memory, improve your attention span, and basically just make you smarter. -Do you wanna give this one a try? -No. What words start with J-I. That's like hilarious. Jicama. -Oh, boy. These are hard. -We visited 2 San Francisco based companies on the leading edge of this research. Lumosity and Posit Science to get a closer look. -So right now we're looking at your brain profile. -At Lumosity, neuroscientists have developed games that exploit the brain's plasticity or in other words its ability to learn new things. -So every time you're seeing something or having a conversation, learning something new, there is a physical change in your brain that takes place. That's how our memory is captured, that's how you learn to get better at things. -A lot of us have been told that by 5 years old or a certain age we've done all the learning we can or our brain is sort of done developing. You-- -Yes. -Clearly don't think that's the case. -Yes. It's not. I mean that was the basic understanding among psychologists and neuroscientists for a long time. The more recent science over the past couple of decades shows that brains actually change pretty fundamentally throughout your entire life. -So by playing these games the research suggests you're working out your brain kind of like going to the gym, but does it actually work? I put Lumosity system to the test. First, there's a baseline assessment test so I can measure where I am cognitively in areas like memory, speed and attention. It did not go well. Oh no. Answer as many math problems as you can in 45 seconds. 1 + 7 - 8. Who can do that? 7 x 9. Oh, I don't. I got it. Correct. 20, incorrect 1. Actually for me that's pretty freaking good as far as math goes. Because you know what they say, journalist plus number equals mistakes. Next. No. I knew it. Oh. Dang it. I actually saw [unk] shake his head out of the corner of his eye by the way. The camera guy knew it. Yes. I got that one. No. Oh, damn it. I like say one thing and then my finger does a different thing. Okay. Generating my brain performance report. I'm a code cracker. Oh. As a code cracker, you are sharp, analytical and cunning like a wolf. They say that the average brain power score for my age range is 100 and mine is 96. This is hurtful my 96. It's all got a little share with friends button. I don't think so. The brain training trend isn't just about solving math problems or unscrambling puzzles really fast. At Posit Science, they're working on software that will help you develop better people skills like facial recognition, good for those parties where you kind of know the names of your guests or, and I like this one, identifying emotions. -For me, I'll just click one. I kind of get it going and what we really wanna do is just take the core parts of the brain that are involved in this kind of task and we'll work them out, strengthen them and make them sharper. -To say like look. That's right. All right. Let's try it here. -There we go. -I'm go sad at that. -Sad. Yes. I'm really sure how it's the easy ones. Good. Neutral is an option also. Some people aren't making any expressions. -I was wondering if neutral is an option. -My one is happy. -Sounds pretty easy. -Yes. -Smiles are pretty easy. -Hey, you're good at this. -Awesome. So I've been brain training for about a week. I have a nice little streak going. I probably put in about 5 hours of training since I first started and now I'm going to take the brain performance test over again to see if I've improved. The folks at Lumosity did say that I might not see an improvement in my score. I might just see improvement in my overall behavior in my life, but I can't lie. I'm hoping to see improvement in my score. That's why I'm going to start the test now, and this time I'm not talking to you guys. -Concentrating. -So the moment of truth has arrived. Am I any smarter? Oh, I got the same score and it says my score is 96. Guess it hasn't changed. I haven't gotten any smarter. Now to be fair the researchers say I did need to brain train for at least 10 hours and I probably did about half that. However I have noticed that the brain training used to make me really tired. When I would start playing the games I felt totally exhausted and then one night I have this hour-long epic brain training session, and I felt totally energized afterward and I actually cleaned up my whole house. So if that's the improvement that I get I will take it. The house is clean. There are skeptics of brain training including me. I mean if you do anything long enough you will get better at it. It's kind of like the outliers argument from Malcolm Gladwell's book. If you practice anything for 10,000 hours, you'll be an expert. So for me the verdict is still out on whether this brain training thing actually works or if I just practice hard enough I'll get better at games. 386, yes. I guess that's the victory all in its own. That sounds good to me.

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