Study Finds Strategic Thinking Boosts Brain Health
May 6, 2014
Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman
Strategy-based cognitive training can help build mental strength, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, was designed with a “gist-reasoning strategy” in which participants used multidimensional thinking strategies, instead of specific cognitive tasks like memorization, to enhance their brain power.
“Our brains are wired to be inspired,” said Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair at UT Dallas. “The ability to recognize, synthesize and create the essence of complex ideas and problems to solve are fundamental skills for academic, occupational and real-life success.”
The study examined three cognitive strategies: strategic attention, integrated reasoning and innovation.
“Strengthening intellectual capacity is no longer science fiction; what used to seem improbable is now in the realm of reality.”
During the first part of the research, participants – who included teens, healthy adults, brain injury patients and those at-risk for Alzheimer’s disease – had to distinguish between irrelevant and important information they were given and focus only on the vital material.
In the advanced level of the study, they interpreted or produced themes or statements from the information they read. The participants also were challenged to apply the training skills in their daily lives outside of the research, which was conducted in about a dozen one-hour sessions over one to two months.
Researchers found gains in abstracting, reasoning and innovating. The training also improved other areas including memory, planning and problem-solving.
“Strengthening intellectual capacity is no longer science fiction; what used to seem improbable is now in the realm of reality,” Chapman said.