In the Times’ Sunday Review, David Hambrick, a psychology researcher at Michigan State University, questions the raft of brain games that are coming to market claiming to sharpen one’s intelligence. From the research I’ve looked at, the problem is really more to do with outsized claims — not that brain training is useless. Hambrick points out an important fact that people frequently misunderstand about intelligence: ” intelligence can’t be measured with any single test; it reflects what tests of many cognitive abilities have in common.” As I’ve argued in my book and elsewhere, intelligence is not a single item, like a pound of beef that can be weighed on a scale but a collection of hundreds of abilities, some of which improve with age and some that decline. And as Hambrick notes, cognitive training to improve a reasoning skill, does improve that reasoning skill — even if it does not mean that they are “smarter.”
My interest is not in making you “smarter” — although that would of course be nice — but for people to keep their cognitive skills sharp as they age….and working your brain can do that.