Brain games and IQ

There are many brain gyms and brain games of various sorts that claim they can make you smarter. Do games increase IQ or Measure IQ? This is hardly scientifically sound. If you play some game, the practice will eventually increase the specific skills required to succeed in the game. After playing the game for a while your skills specific for the game will increase. Typically this does not mean that other skills related to intelligence improve. If you play several games, you may enhance several related skills. In theory, by choosing the right combination of games, you could enhance a wide range of cognitive functions. Does this theory work? Nobody actually knows.

How do you measure intelligence? You ask several people to play some cognitive games and measure distribution of scores. Now each someone plays the same games, that person may be positioned with respect to people who played the game before. There is a limited number of intelligence-measuring games, since development of such games requires significant research. A person is not allowed to take the same test over and over again: this will change performance of that person. There is a funny fact that if a person passes standardised test several times a higher score may be achieved [on average the best score is achieved the second time, but students that failed second test will often pass a third one]. Therefore playing the right games allows to get higher score on intelligence test.

Now you play a game to improve your intelligence, and you score higher in intelligence test. Does this mean you became smarter? Not really, it only means you improved some measurable skills. Moreover, if you do not practice the same games for a while your relevant skills will decrease. I read very fast. I remember almost everything. Yet, I think I will score lower than half of you in the training exercises of keytostudy course – simply because I do not need to. Some students will get great score in the training games but will not read, other students will not play games but will read. Who will be a better reader over time?

When we built the training schedule of the course we assumed that training exercises and reading will be used in a certain sequence, and each training exercise will be incorporated as reading skill. Now, some students focus solely on passing the training exercises without integrating them in their reading skillset. The “speedreading IQ” test will be very high, but reading speed and retention will not match.

Playing brain games and going to brain gyms is better than not playing games at all, but true effect is probably much less than what you see in game statistics. Unless you can integrate the new skills into your true everyday life routine, the games’ effect is probably transient and not very effective. Do play the game that develop the skills you actually need, or better yet develop new skills that require you to read new books, to play new games and generate new experiences. New books and new experiences boost creativity, intelligence and common knowledge probably more than most brain games.

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6 Replies to “Brain games and IQ”

  1. You never cease to amaze me with there articles ๐Ÿ™‚ , this article will change the way I do things, and not just in this course!

    Last year I enrolled in course called “Learning How to Learn” (on Coursera), since I wasn’t learning anything around that time, I wasn’t able to apply what I learned to real life situations. But in the tests after each sections I always scored 10/10…
    And now when I think about it, I realize that I learned very very little…

    Again Love your articles ๐Ÿ™‚ !

  2. Hi Lev, I really enjoy your articles and I check out your site almost every day. I find that I got “Unable to connect to database” a few times. I think your VPS will need some memory upgrade ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. No doubt, adults and children need brain games. They help to develop, improve thinking, and so on. But sometimes you need just to relax. And snailbob is the best for children. It’s a series of flash games which personally I find awesome. Is there anyone who played them? Share your opinions!

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