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In the 21 percent whose nonverbal IQ (any problem-solving unrelated to language, such as spatial reasoning) rose or fell, so did the density of gray matter in the anterior cerebellum, which is associated with moving the hand.Although most of us think of motor skills and cognitive skills as like oil and water, in fact a number of studies have found that refining your sensory-motor skills can bolster cognitive ones.The more they practiced and honed their short-term memory, the greater the improvement in the purest form of brain power, fluid intelligence—the ability to reason and solve problems in-dependently of existing knowledge.(The reasoning portion of the test used what are called progressive matrices: seeing three geometric configurations and choosing which of many options continued the pattern.) In June the Michigan team got the same results in school-age kids, finding that memory training boosts pure intelligence, and so may be the surest path to a higher IQ."There is some controversy over whether brain training can enhance cognition," says neuroscientist Eric Kandel of Columbia University, who shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discoveries about the cellular and molecular basis of memory.No one knows exactly why, but it may be that the two brain systems are more interconnected than we realize.So learn to knit, or listen to classical music, or master juggling, and you might be raising your IQ.Not to mention the kind of information that could significantly improve your day-to-day life: wouldn't it be wonderful to understand and remember more of what you read and hear (what's the catch with annuities again?
The key to these kinds of gains is "intensive training," says Kandel—not quite the quick brain fix we're told can come simply from eating blueberries or drinking pomegranate juice.
IQ, measured by a battery of tests of working memory, spatial skills, and pattern recognition, among others, captures a wide range of cognitive skills, from spatial to verbal to analytical and beyond.
Twenty points is "a huge difference," says cognitive scientist Cathy Price of University College London, who led the research.
"But if you really work on memory by, for instance, memorizing poetry—Shakespearean sonnets work—it probably improves some aspects of cognitive function."Neuroimaging offers clues to just how memory drills might improve pure intelligence.
During memory training, brain scans show, several regions (the lateral prefrontal cortex, the inferior parietal cortex, the anterior cingulate, and the basal gang-lia) become more active—indicating that these regions are involved in memory.