Brain Training Efficacy

Are there any evidenced ways to improve memory and intellect?

Studies of mental functions, behaviors and the nervous system.

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Brain Training Efficacy

#1  Postby RPizzle » Feb 13, 2011 4:43 pm

Being a student, I have for some time been interested in ways to improve my memory and various reasoning skills. I often use brain training programs, as well as play instruments, games such as shogi (Japanese Chess), and do sudoku puzzles. However, the other day I saw an article which detailed that "brain training" programs were shown to be ineffective, having no transfer effects on any specific tasks regarding intelligence1.

This leaves me in a bit of a quandary, as I would like to improve my mental abilities as much as possible, however there seems to be rather scant information on the best way to do so. The most I've found were a few papers in which n-back related tasks were related to a transfer in fluid intelligence 2-4. Other articles I've read were dealing with elder age groups looking to minimize or eliminate decline. I'm wondering if there is anything evidenced to improve upon normal.

I figured that it would be best to ask the members of the forum, since there seems to be so many half-truths and pseudo-science dealing with brain improvement. So, as in my topic description, does anyone know of evidenced-based ways to improve things such as spatial reasoning, memory, and general intelligence?

Source:
1. (Abstract Only) http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7299/full/nature09042.html
2. (PDF) http://bungelab.berkeley.edu/News/jaeggi_2008_PNAS.pdf
3. (PDF) http://www.psy.unibe.ch/unibe/philhuman/psy/apn/content/e5616/e5621/e7504/e7774/files7775/Download_ger.pdf
4. (PDF) http://www.gwern.net/docs/qiu2009.pdf

Edit: Additional citation.
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#2  Postby Imza » Feb 13, 2011 11:15 pm

Perhaps if you were more specific about the context in which you wanted to improve your abilities it will be easier to provide some advice. The problem I see with targeting global areas such as intelligence (as defined by standard IQ tests) and memory is that for one thing, the standard measurements for these traits typically give a more or less static and you would typically not see improvements on them.

The second and more important concern is that these things are not really relevant areas to target if your looking to improve yourself as a student. To be a better student, there are other things I'd imagine you would have to focus on, such as study skills, time spent on school work, etc...I can provide plenty of examples of these from School Psych field if your interested.
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#3  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Feb 13, 2011 11:38 pm

Diet, exercise, proper sleep, and socializing. And quit smoking cigarettes if you smoke now.

Fish Oil supplements or lots of omega-3. Lots of Berries especially blueberries. I also take Bacopa Monnieri, it has gone through clinical studies and has show to have a beneficial effect on memory and mental health without any observed toxicity or side effects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excersize#Effects_on_brain_function
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_and_learning
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_and_Memory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_oil#Mental_health
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blueberries#Research_on_the_potential_anti-disease_effects_of_blueberries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacopa_monnieri#Medicine
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#4  Postby RPizzle » Feb 14, 2011 12:56 am

@Imadzaheer:

My first post was probably overly broad. Sorry about that. The reason I brought up the n-back studies in my OP was that improvement in working memory was shown to have a positive effect on generalized intelligence tests. I know IQ isn't a great metric for actual performance, but I thought that having a transfer effect was at least a good sign. I had also thought brain training games/programs would show some effect on overall cognitive ability, but that wasn't the case considering the results of the large scale study.

That being said, there are some areas that I seem to have deficiencies, and was wondering if there are specific methods for improvement. When I took organic chemistry, we had to be able to take various molecules and manipulate them using molecular modeling kits. During exams this had to be done in your head. I noticed that some people seemed to easily be able to rotate the structures in their mind, but for me it was like a brick wall. The only thing that my professor said was that "You just got to get it." I ended up doing well enough in that class, but I'm left wondering if it is really as simple as some people getting it easily, while others don't. I can say the same with music, as I have no real knack or ear for it despite playing a few instruments. Mathematics as well seems to be something that I inherently don't "get" even though I'm proficient as I need to be. My memory seems to be pretty good, but I figure that better memory couldn't hurt. I guess I was wondering if there are targeted ways to improve in spatial reasoning, mathematics, music, memory etc. that doesn't amount to just repetition.

That aside, I'd be thrilled if you had any information on school psychology, especially regarding studying and ways to retain information. Normally I try to get a couple hours of study time for every credit I'm taking, extra if a class is particularly difficult. While I try to space out my readings, I do have a tendency to procrastinate based on the perceived level of pain-in-the-ass the work is going to be.


@CdesignProponentsist:

Thank you for the links. I would say that I tend to keep myself in good shape, eat lots of veg, don't smoke, etc. I take high DHA fish oil daily already, as well as drink plenty of green tea. The only issues I tend to have health-wise are sleep related, as I believe I have a circadian rhythm disorder, which I keep barely in check using melatonin and valerian. I have not heard of the Bacopa Monnieri, so I think I'll have a fun time looking up abstracts on it.
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#5  Postby RPizzle » Feb 14, 2011 12:56 am

I double posted. :waah:
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#6  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 14, 2011 1:04 am

Steven Novella discusses that Nature article here: More Trouble for Brain Training. As far as I'm aware, there has never been a study to demonstrate that things like sudoku, or those other programs, have any effect at all on cognitive functions. The logic usually works backwards - they find that people who are interested in things like crossword puzzles at age 80 tend to have better cognitive abilities compared to their peers that aren't interested in crossword puzzles. The problem is that the direction of causation is backwards; that is, it appears as if they enjoy crosswords because they have better cognitive abilities.

CdesignProponentsist wrote:Diet, exercise, proper sleep, and socializing. And quit smoking cigarettes if you smoke now.

Fish Oil supplements or lots of omega-3. Lots of Berries especially blueberries. I also take Bacopa Monnieri, it has gone through clinical studies and has show to have a beneficial effect on memory and mental health without any observed toxicity or side effects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excersize#Effects_on_brain_function
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_and_learning
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_and_Memory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_oil#Mental_health
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blueberries#Research_on_the_potential_anti-disease_effects_of_blueberries
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacopa_monnieri#Medicine


I agree with good diet and sleep, and whilst socialising would presumably help, I'm not aware of any research for or against it. However, the idea that exercise improves intelligence is not well accepted at all - there have been a few mice studies which suggest it can help, but as we move closer to human correlates (like rats), we find that not only does exercise have no effect on intelligence but there is a minor trend suggesting it might decrease intelligence.

The observational studies in this area usually suffer from the same problems as the crossword example I discussed above, but this article (linked to in your wikipedia article) suggests that there might be an effect - given the studies they examined, however, it appears as if the increase in cognitive abilities was the result of shifting from a sedentary lifestyle, to an intellectually stimulating one i.e. the article has nothing to do with increasing intelligence or cognitive functions, it's more about reversing deficiencies. In other words, it's like finding that a dehydrating athlete performs better after drinking some water, and trying to conclude that giving water to well hydrated people will make them run faster. And like the studies on exercise and depression, I think we'll find that the cause for any improvement here is not the exercise itself (as there's no plausible mechanism that is accepted to alter brain function as a result of exercise), and instead the effect is entirely a product of having new experiences and meeting new people.

Ben Goldacre discusses the research behind omega-3 and intelligence here (Fish oil in the Observer: the return of a $2bn friend), where the current scientific consensus is that there is absolutely no effect at all.

I haven't heard of blueberries or Bacopa Monnieri having any real world effects on cognitive functions, so I don't know much about them..
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#7  Postby RPizzle » Feb 14, 2011 1:16 am

@Mr. Samsa:

Thanks a bunch. Your post definitely helps with differentiating the science and psuedo-science. With "brain training" being such a large industry now, it is really difficult to wade through it all. This whole time I thought the sudoku was helping. So yeah, I'm never playing that game again. Though, I will keep my shogi.
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#8  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 14, 2011 1:38 am

RPizzle wrote:@Mr. Samsa:

Thanks a bunch. Your post definitely helps with differentiating the science and psuedo-science. With "brain training" being such a large industry now, it is really difficult to wade through it all. This whole time I thought the sudoku was helping. So yeah, I'm never playing that game again. Though, I will keep my shogi.


No problem :cheers:

And it's not that sudoku is useless, per se, it's more just that any claims that it can produce identifiable increases in specific cognitive abilities are bullshit. But it could be useful to keep doing it, among other things, as part of environmental enrichment. I think this is the key confound that causes us to think that certain things are improving global processes even when studies suggest they aren't, because stimulating yourself every day will have positive effects on the structure of your brain and will presumably improve your cognitive abilities (assuming that your 'stimulation' is more demanding than watching quiz shows on tv).

I think the best thing to do is to really surround yourself with intelligent people, and push yourself to ask questions and to develop new skills. In sports, for example, a common sense approach to improving an athlete's ability is to put them in a team that's better than they are, so they're forced to improve to stay above water - when you put an athlete in a team or competition where they have no equal, then their abilities tend to diminish. And I think the same is true for intelligence, hence why in older people some cognitive decreases can be regained through intellectual stimulation (as some of their deficiencies are a result of not using their cognitive abilities or "exercising their brain"). This approach also allows us to get feedback on our thinking patterns, so when we start to expand our abilities we will generally receive positive feedback (e.g. "Wow that's an interesting idea, I wonder if research has been done on that!") and it can also help us identify areas that need to be improved (e.g. "Uh.. that doesn't even make sense. What are you talking about?").

I'm not sure if my IQ has increased or not since joining up here (and RD.net forum originally), but I know that my grades have improved, my writing has improved, my general understanding of concepts now far exceeds anything I used to know. For me, I find that it's best to learn the basics of a subject (just using wikipedia), and then being skeptical of claims that people make. When faced with skepticism, people will either be forced to admit that they're just making stuff up, or they'll explain in more detail information that you need to know to grasp the subject. A great example of this is to question Susu.exp's claim that evolution is random - but only do so when you have a month of spare time to wade through all the references and information he gives you ;)

Oh, and I find a great place to start is to read a book on critical thinking. This one is an easy to understand book: Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide.
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#9  Postby RPizzle » Feb 14, 2011 1:53 am

@Mr. Samsa:

It just so happens that I was looking for a new book for the 50 book challenge. I think I found it. Thanks again!
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#10  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Feb 14, 2011 1:56 am

RPizzle wrote:When I took organic chemistry, we had to be able to take various molecules and manipulate them using molecular modeling kits. During exams this had to be done in your head. I noticed that some people seemed to easily be able to rotate the structures in their mind, but for me it was like a brick wall.


I think as far as training the brain, practical training is what you need. Sudoku probably will not help you much with spacial skills when working with molecules. If you want to increase specific mental skills, you should focus your exercises on those skills.

Think of the brain as a round mountain and different parts of the mountain have different cognitive application, and think of your thought process as water falling on this mountain eroding streams and valleys. As you utilize specific cognitive applications, the streams in those areas become rivers. You build the needed connections in order to be better at doing these application.

So in essence practice what you want to get better at.

@mr Samsa, I agree, it looks like there is some question regarding fish oil and brain function. I do currently take it to lower my cholesterol along with red yeast rice, and had heard talk of it being beneficial for the brain as well. I guess this may not be the case. Oh well. I feel smarter at least :)
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#11  Postby Elena » Feb 14, 2011 1:49 pm

Rich,

Your question has been posed by a number of medical researchers over the past decade. More broadly, they have been wondering "Is there a way to improve the brain's executive functions?" Epidemiological data had shown that the answer was "probably yes." This prompted researchers to conduct a number of randomized studies.

Because in Medicine "no pain, no gain," the populations studied so far are those with some cognitive deficit at baseline ("pain"). They do show benefits ("gain") from interventions. These consist of brain training, as you call it, and exercise. We know now that regular exercise increases growth factors, which in turn increases the number of cerebral capillaries (transporting oxygen), of neurons, and of dendrites (inter-neuronal connections). Exercise has shown cognitive benefit also in obese children. There is no reason why these findings should not apply to fit, young adults like yourself. Your departing point (in terms of cognitive ability) before brain training and exercise is simply higher -and so will your results.

See: Computer-Based, Personalized Cognitive Training versus Classical Computer Games: A Randomized Double-Blind Prospective Trial of Cognitive Stimulation.

Exercise improves executive function and achievement and alters brain activation in overweight children: A randomized, controlled trial.

The study involved 171 overweight sedentary 7 to 11 year old children. All the children took the Cognitive Assessment System and Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III (a standard cognition test that measures math, reading, and other academic skills) at the beginning of the study. Some of the children had a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) test at the beginning of the study.

The children were then exposed to a routine of 20 minutes or 40 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. The more the children exercised the more their scores on the achievement tests increased. The fMRI revealed more activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain of those children who exercised more. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher cognition skills like math and for behavioral control. The same results have been seen in adults.
http://www.examiner.com/science-news-in ... z1DwBEHCmJ


Effects of Cognitive Training Interventions With Older Adults. A Randomized Controlled Trial

Context Cognitive function in older adults is related to independent living and need for care. However, few studies have addressed whether improving cognitive functions might have short- or long-term effects on activities related to living independently.
Objective To evaluate whether 3 cognitive training interventions improve mental abilities and daily functioning in older, independent-living adults.
Design Randomized, controlled, single-blind trial with recruitment conducted from March 1998 to October 1999 and 2-year follow-up through December 2001.
Setting and Participants Volunteer sample of 2832 persons aged 65 to 94 years recruited from senior housing, community centers, and hospital/clinics in 6 metropolitan areas in the United States.
Interventions Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: 10-session group training for memory (verbal episodic memory; n = 711), or reasoning (ability to solve problems that follow a serial pattern; n = 705), or speed of processing (visual search and identification; n = 712); or a no-contact control group (n = 704). For the 3 treatment groups, 4-session booster training was offered to a 60% random sample 11 months later.
Main Outcome Measures Cognitive function and cognitively demanding everyday functioning.
Results Thirty participants were incorrectly randomized and were excluded from the analysis. Each intervention improved the targeted cognitive ability compared with baseline, durable to 2 years (P<.001 for all). Eighty-seven percent of speed-, 74% of reasoning-, and 26% of memory-trained participants demonstrated reliable cognitive improvement immediately after the intervention period. Booster training enhanced training gains in speed (P<.001) and reasoning (P<.001) interventions (speed booster, 92%; no booster, 68%; reasoning booster, 72%; no booster, 49%), which were maintained at 2-year follow-up (P<.001 for both). No training effects on everyday functioning were detected at 2 years.
Conclusions Results support the effectiveness and durability of the cognitive training interventions in improving targeted cognitive abilities. Training effects were of a magnitude equivalent to the amount of decline expected in elderly persons without dementia over 7- to 14-year intervals. Because of minimal functional decline across all groups, longer follow-up is likely required to observe training effects on everyday function.


Exercise May Improve Cognitive Skills in Older Population
February 3, 2010 — Participating in a sustained exercise program may decrease cognitive decline in patients older than 55 years, according to results from 2 new studies published in the January 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In a cohort study from Germany, investigators found that moderate or high physical activity was associated with a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment in patients older than 55 years.
The second randomized controlled study showed that resistance training programs improved the cognitive skills of attention and conflict resolution in women between the ages of 65 and 75 years in Canada.
"Our population-based prospective study of a large cohort of elderly subjects found that lack of physical activity yielded a significant association with incident cognitive impairment after 2 years" ...

… Dr. Etgen said that he was amazed at the extent of the findings. "Physical activity cut in half the odds of developing incident cognitive impairment. We were also surprised that moderate physical activity had nearly the same effect as high physical activity."


So how does cognitive training works on the brain? There is some evidence of functional plasticity:

The influence of perceptual training on working memory in older adults.

...So don't give up Sudoku and exercise just yet ;)
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#12  Postby RPizzle » Feb 15, 2011 1:07 am

@ Elena:

Thank you for the response. I was able to find full text for the "Cognitive Training RCT1", and have read the abstracts of the others, as well as gone over the open access article which you linked. The full text for the 2800 person RCT was very interesting. I was surprised that the training caused so much improvement. What's more, it seemed that a few booster classes were able to maintain the initial results over a two year span. However, while it appears that reasoning (74%) and speed (87%) training were able to create cognitive improvement, memory improved in only 26% of participants after training. Perhaps, this would show that memory is more difficult to improve, or that there is more permanence in age related decline compared to the other results. Overall it seems the outcomes were very positive, and that significant cognitive change can occur even in the later years.

In the full text article you linked2, I found it fascinating that elderly adults who received training were able to best a cohort of college students, albeit ones who were untrained. It would be interesting to see if these findings are replicated on a larger scale, as 32 people comprised the experimental group and 20 the control.

Looking at this study in particular though, I find a large problem with university learning. Most information and research is rather cut and dry in class. In this study, Posit Science is providing funding, has three article authors on their staff with company investments, and the training software is their own. The company sells "brain training" games/software for $350-$700 a pop. I really find it difficult to determine how skeptical I should be. Even with that being said, the results do look promising.

I would be interested to learn more about neuroplasticity, and the methods used to create cognitive improvement. I had always heard, and apparently accepted as fact, that if you didn't start learning a language or play an instrument from a young age that you were pretty much doomed to mediocrity in those areas. However, if pronounced changes are possible in elderly adults through training, then perhaps that assumption is wrong or less prominent than I had thought. Thanks again for all the thought provoking links.

Source:
1. (PDF) http://geron.psu.edu/sls/Effects_of_cog_training_02.pdf
2. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0011537

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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#13  Postby RPizzle » Feb 15, 2011 1:35 am

CdesignProponentsist wrote:
RPizzle wrote:When I took organic chemistry, we had to be able to take various molecules and manipulate them using molecular modeling kits. During exams this had to be done in your head. I noticed that some people seemed to easily be able to rotate the structures in their mind, but for me it was like a brick wall.


I think as far as training the brain, practical training is what you need. Sudoku probably will not help you much with spacial skills when working with molecules. If you want to increase specific mental skills, you should focus your exercises on those skills.

Think of the brain as a round mountain and different parts of the mountain have different cognitive application, and think of your thought process as water falling on this mountain eroding streams and valleys. As you utilize specific cognitive applications, the streams in those areas become rivers. You build the needed connections in order to be better at doing these application.

So in essence practice what you want to get better at.

@mr Samsa, I agree, it looks like there is some question regarding fish oil and brain function. I do currently take it to lower my cholesterol along with red yeast rice, and had heard talk of it being beneficial for the brain as well. I guess this may not be the case. Oh well. I feel smarter at least :)


@ CdesignProponensist:

What you said makes a lot of sense. Part of the reason I was so interested in the brain training software/programs was due to wondering if there were more effective ways to learn certain things. In one brain training game for instance, there was a 3D picture of various shapes, and one had to determine on a 2D plane which angle the viewer was looking. This was meant to promote spatial reasoning. Another game had multiple items placed and removed from a box, and one had to keep track and remember the amounts of each. This was touted to promote memory. However, when the study that I linked at top showed that "brain training" games had no practical effects, it led me to wonder if there were empirically evidenced methods that were superior to brain training games or playing around with my molecular modeling kit until I "got it" for things such as spatial reasoning, memory, etc.
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#14  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 15, 2011 1:50 am

RPizzle wrote:@ Elena:

Thank you for the response. I was able to find full text for the "Cognitive Training RCT1", and have read the abstracts of the others, as well as gone over the open access article which you linked. The full text for the 2800 person RCT was very interesting. I was surprised that the training caused so much improvement. What's more, it seemed that a few booster classes were able to maintain the initial results over a two year span. However, while it appears that reasoning (74%) and speed (87%) training were able to create cognitive improvement, memory improved in only 26% of participants after training. Perhaps, this would show that memory is more difficult to improve, or that there is more permanence in age related decline compared to the other results. Overall it seems the outcomes were very positive, and that significant cognitive change can occur even in the later years.

In the full text article you linked2, I found it fascinating that elderly adults who received training were able to best a cohort of college students, albeit ones who were untrained. It would be interesting to see if these findings are replicated on a larger scale, as 32 people comprised the experimental group and 20 the control.


I think what we need to keep in mind, however, is that those studies are looking at very specific subpopulations so their generalisation to other groups is tentative. In other words, it's possible that the cognitive training and exercise didn't increase cognitive function, but simply removed some other confound which affected cognitive function originally. As I mentioned above with the analogy with the dehydrated athlete - finding that giving him water makes him run faster, does not mean that giving water to athletes will make them run faster.

We'd need to see studies on fully functional, healthy adults to see if these claims hold up.

RPizzle wrote:Looking at this study in particular though, I find a large problem with university learning. Most information and research is rather cut and dry in class.


It depends on what level of university you're at. Initially the first year or two is more or less rote learning; 'here are the facts, learn them'. Then the third year introduces skepticism and asks you to do some critical examination of the claims made in lectures; 'here are the facts, what do you think of them?'. And then once you get past third year, and into postgraduate study, you basically learn that everything you've been told in university is wrong, so it's more like, 'The world is a confused and jumbled mess and nobody really knows anything, go out there and try to discover a single fact on to which we can base an entire framework of knowledge'.

RPizzle wrote:In this study, Posit Science is providing funding, has three article authors are on their staff with investments, and the training program being used is their own. The company sells "brain training" games/programs for $350-$700 a pop. I really find it difficult to determine how skeptical I should be. Even with that being said, the results do look promising.


I think the key is to be open to the possibility, but skeptical of any big claims that seem pretty unbelievable at a glance. The idea that things we do, like staying healthy and using your brain in everyday life, can improve the function of our brain (especially in tasks that we explicitly practice) is a fairly undebatable claim, but the claim that arranging numbers in a 3X3 square will improve our memory, advance our algebra and grammatical skills is something we should be wary of..

RPizzle wrote:I would be interested to learn more about neuroplasticity, and the methods used to create cognitive improvement. I had always heard, and apparently accepted as fact, that if you didn't start learning a language or play an instrument from a young age that you were pretty much doomed to mediocrity in those areas. However, if pronounced changes are possible in elderly adults through training, then perhaps that assumption is wrong or less prominent than I had thought. Thanks again for all the thought provoking links.

Source:
1. (PDF) http://geron.psu.edu/sls/Effects_of_cog_training_02.pdf
2. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0011537


There are some good articles on neuroplasticity, in particular these:

http://mindhacks.com/2010/07/06/neuropl ... discovery/
http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2010/1 ... icity.html

They give a decent summary of what it is, and discuss some of the limitations and problems with how it's generally presented. Basically, the idea that our brain is "fixed" and that we have set structures that deal with certain functions (the modular mind) is necessarily wrong, but the extent to which it is wrong is where the problems come in. Neuroplasticity is not an amazing thing that can rebuild an entire structure in an adult brain - our flexibility decreases significantly as we get older, but as children when the brain is initially wiring itself up, it can cope with a few obstacles. The problem is when we assume that neuroplasticity is what accounts for our ability to learn, when in reality it only plays a minor role, but this belief is what leads to the ideas like the 10% myth of brain use and that we have some kind of "hidden potential" that needs to be unlocked.

In terms of language, there certainly is a "critical period" of sorts, as people not exposed to language by a certain age will fail to pick it up (although this idea is obviously based on observational studies and it's possible that there are serious confounds to this idea). With music, however, learning to play as early as possible will certainly help but it's not true that learning it later on dooms you to mediocrity. It's harder to learn (old dog, new tricks), but not impossible. So there is some flexibility in learning these things, but they have little to do with neuroplasticity.
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#15  Postby Elena » Feb 15, 2011 3:26 am

RPizzle wrote: In the full text article you linked2, I found it fascinating that elderly adults who received training were able to best a cohort of college students, albeit ones who were untrained.

Agree. That's fascinating.

It also seems that exercise confers cognitive benefits at any age. In the study on obese children, the fact that there was a quantitative relationship between exercise and "brain gains" is remarkable:
The children were then exposed to a routine of 20 minutes or 40 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. The more the children exercised the more their scores on the achievement tests increased. The fMRI revealed more activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain of those children who exercised more. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher cognition skills like math and for behavioral control. The same results have been seen in adults.

At least for some executive functions, the neural networks involved seem to prevail across age groups:
Similar network activated by young and old adults during the acquisition of a motor sequence.

I would be interested to learn more about neuroplasticity, and the methods used to create cognitive improvement.

This might interest you: Learning-dependent plasticity with and without training in the human brain.

...as well as several articles of the journal Neural Plasticity.

Best :cheers:
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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#16  Postby natselrox » Feb 15, 2011 2:49 pm

Use RNA interference or Gene Silencing against RGS14 and boost your memory!

That's the tagline of my next project. :P
When in perplexity, read on.

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Re: Brain Training Efficacy

#17  Postby RPizzle » Feb 15, 2011 3:48 pm

It appears that I have a bunch of reading ahead of me. Though, I'm sure I'll be firing off many more questions as I go through all the sources that everyone has provided. Much obliged. :thumbup:
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