Memory training turns up brain power

From the May 1, 2008 New York Times:

A new study has found that it may be possible to train people to be more intelligent, increasing the brainpower they had at birth.

Until now, it had been widely assumed that the kind of mental ability that allows us to solve new problems without having any relevant previous experience — what psychologists call fluid intelligence — is innate and cannot be taught (though people can raise their grades on tests of it by practicing).

But in the new study, researchers describe a method for improving this skill, along with experiments to prove it works.

The key, researchers found, was carefully structured training in working memory— the kind that allows memorization of a telephone number just long enough to dial it. This type of memory is closely related to fluid intelligence, according to background information in the article, and appears to rely on the same brain circuitry. So the researchers reasoned that improving it might lead to improvements in fluid intelligence.

 

This is pretty fascinating stuff and goes right to what Be Amazing finds the most under-reported positive feature of Fast ForWord training: that average or even above average students can improve academic performance by targeting foundational skills like working memory, sequencing, attention and processing rates. In other words, Fast ForWord does incredible things for struggling readers, but can create an optimal foundation for academic success for all students.

The complete study is available online at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Web site.

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