How old is your brain?

My friend just bought a Nintendo DS lite and the Brain Age game yesterday. It was claimed that you will become smarter if you play the game 10-15 minutes a day. The game includes an ever-changing series of exercises that can include sudoku, drawing, memorizing numbers and patterns flashed onscreen, reading aloud (usually classic literature), and performing basic math problems in rapid-fire succession.

Out of curiosity, I gave it a try and it was quite a fun game indeed. Just like any other scientific experiment, I wanted to compare how much the Brain Age game can make me smarter. So before I attempted to play with the brain exercises, I did the test to see how old my brain was.

And guess what, my baseline scoring was 80. (I didn't know speed counts in the game, and so I was taking my time during the exercise.)

It sounds really unbelievable to me! After I did my first set of brain exercises, I decided to test my brain age again. This time, my brain age was 46. Seriously, my brain was younger within 30 minutes by 34 years!

I was still unsatisfied with my brain age. (Come on, 46 is totally over the hill and according to the game, the ideal brain age is 20.) So today, I decided to do my brain exercise and test my brain age again. And here's the result, my score was 25 today!

The drastic improvement of my brain age is most likely due to my familiarity of the game and the machine itself. Since I spent so much time in studying for the actuarial exams, does the training from preparing the actuarial exams improve my brain power?

Based on the instruction booklet of the Brain Age, there are more blood flow in many parts of the brain when a brain is performing simple math problems quickly. On the other hand, when a brain is solving a difficult math problem, the blood flow to a brain is mainly concentrated in a small area. Therefore, "performing simple calculations quickly is an effective way to train your brain."

Probably the practice of solving a SOA exam problems (difficult math problems, indeed) only develop a small area in the brain, rather than the overall cognitive intelligence? (That's what expertise comes from, right?) Hopefully the SOA can conduct a study regarding to this topic in the future.

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sb said...

I played Brainage sometimes ago -- frustatingly shouting "RED!" "BLUE!" "Yellow!"

End up laughing at myself