The New Science of Building Brain Power

Book - 2014
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With vivid stories of lives transformed, science journalist Dan Hurley delivers practical findings for people of every age and ability. Along the way, he narrates with acid-tongued wit his experiences as a human guinea pig, road-testing commercial brain-training programs, learning to play the Renaissance lute, getting physically fit, even undergoing transcranial direct current stimulation.
Publisher: New York : Hudson Street Press, 2014
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9781594631276
Characteristics: xxiv, 275 pages ; 24 cm


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Sep 02, 2016

If you're not quite up to ploughing through a 250 page book to find out what the consensus is re brain boosting software [& hardware] you should read the July [August?] issue of Discover magazine, wherein he covers the same material [and plugs this book].
Bottom line? There isn't one- the academic community is engaged in one huge cat fight over this issue. Even Hurley makes a weak and vague concluding remark- "Well, i feel smarter."

A problem with the book is that he decided on a super-trial, in which he filled his shopping cart with everything that looked good to him [hey- always wanted to learn the lute, exercise looks good, and the luminosity site looks impressive...].
Problem is, even if you think his i-feel-better conclusion warrants jumping in yourself, you don't know if only, say, the musical instrument learning provided the benefit, or whether all his ingredients helped, or... etc.
Also: he looked only Trans cranial Magnetic Stimulators, not the half-dozen other machines on marketplace, so no help there.
One technique he approved is the nicotine patch! Surprise!! I read that nicotine dumbs you down by constricting blood vessels to brain. I'm not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
And the whole scene is changing by the month.
My personal conclusion, read serious books to stretch the old noodle, maybe learn an instrument, and of course exercise, but don't pry open your wallet for apps and/or gizmos, because the evidence just isn't here yet.
PS: as of this writing, August 2016, Scientific American just published a feature article enthusing over videogames as brain boosters. I'm sure that'll come as a shock to the University of Montreal that just published a study [2015] demonstrating hippocampus shrinkage in video-gamers that indulged more than 6 hrs a week!

Mar 05, 2014

This is a very good read, and an excellent example of real science writing/reporting, where Mr. Hurley correctly explains research study outcomes (not like all the faux newsies today, whose articles bear little resemblance to the actual science research study outcomes). The author makes just one mistake: he mentions Marilyn vos Savant, a columnist for Parade Magazine, as being listed as the woman with the highest IQ - - this was pulled from Guinness Book of Records as being invalid, as she had doctored her scores (her actual score was closer to 130, although having seen vos Savant in an interview, where she appeared bland, mediocre, and not particularly articulate, I would say even that score was a stretch).


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