A new article in The New York Times, Can You Make Yourself Smarter, provides a great overview of working memory and cognitive training:
- “We see attention and working memory as the cardiovascular function of the brain,” Jaeggi says.“If you train your attention and working memory, you increase your basic cognitive skills that help you for many different complex tasks.”
- “Those two things, working memory and cognitive control, I think, are at the heart of intellectual functioning,” Jonides told me when I met with him, Jaeggi and Buschkuehl in their basement office. “They are part of what differentiates us from other species. They allow us to selectively process information from the environment, and to use that information to do all kinds of problem-solving and reasoning.”
- “Harold Hawkins, a cognitive psychologist at the Office of Naval Research who oversees most of the U.S. military’s studies in the area, expressed a common view. For him, the question now is not whether cognitive training works but how strongly and how best to achieve it. ”
- “If future studies confirm the benefits of working-memory training on fluid intelligence, the implications could be enormous. Might children with A.D.H.D. receive working-memory training rather than stimulant drugs like Ritalin? Might students in high school and college do N‑back training rather than cramming for their finals? Could a journalist like me write better articles?”
Comment: The article fails to discuss other brain training methodologies such as meditation, cognitive therapy/ reframing and biofeedback (the implication being that there is a growing number of tools to “make ourselves smarter” and we therefore need to learn how to navigate and use them), and gives too much credit to the flawed “BBC brain training” study, but it overall provides an excellent read.
Article: Can You Make Yourself Smarter