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Does Thinking Make You Smarter ?

  1. Jun 17, 2012 #1
    Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    I've always had an unspoken, unverified assumption that playing any game that uses a lot of mental power will make one "smarter."

    How do I define smart? As basically anything that improves brain function.

    I guess my question is: does the brain work like a muscle? Does constant critical thinking "work out" one's brain?

    Would playing a strategy game (whether it's chess or Starcraft II) help one's mental processes?

    Thanks in advance for the answers. Also I'm not sure if this thread belongs in general discussion, or one of the more technical scientific sections of the forums...
     
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  3. Jun 17, 2012 #2

    Evo

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    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    Playing a game can possibly improve certain skills, but it won't make you "smarter' as in gaining more academic knowledge. Skills do not equal intelligence.
     
  4. Jun 17, 2012 #3
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    As Evo said; Playing certain games, like chess and strategy games, may improve analytical skills I guess. But I wouldn't go as far as saying that playing games would make you "smarter".
     
  5. Jun 17, 2012 #4
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    In my opinion, skills are much closer to intelligence than knowledge is. I would never define smart as having a lot of knowledge, but rather having better "brain power," whatever that means.
     
  6. Jun 17, 2012 #5
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    I'm not sure playing SC2 will make you smarter, but I can say that most of my fellow mathematics classmates seemed "smarter" after slogging over proofs for so many years, not just in terms of a knowledge of math, but more like, an understanding of how to logically approach a problem and assess what courses of action to take.

    SC2 can teach you better "on the fly" decision making, better prediction of human behavior, and it can probably improve manual dexterity though.
     
  7. Jun 17, 2012 #6
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    I'm pretty sure that everyone agrees that intelligence is a very broad concept. There are different "ways" to be intelligent.
     
  8. Jun 17, 2012 #7
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    I wouldn't assume using your brain more makes you 'smarter'. However, if this leads you to consistently have a more efficient thinking process which allows for more effective problem solving then it might be ok to say you've become 'smarter'
     
  9. Jun 17, 2012 #8
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    For the sake of this thread, I'm basically using the word "smart" to mean any of many possible definitions.
     
  10. Jun 17, 2012 #9
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    http://wimse.fsu.edu/media/expert-mind.pdf p.68
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  11. Jun 17, 2012 #10

    Evo

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    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    Actually that would make the topic impossible to discuss. What would be "smart" in the context of playing games? Hand to eye coordination? Being more aggressive? Taking more risks?
     
  12. Jun 17, 2012 #11
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    That is a ridiculous assumption. Playing a game does one thing, it makes you good a playing a game.

    Being "smart" is really just having a large collection of skills. If you do a lot of math, you'll get very good at math, but you'll know nothing more about politics or philosophy or how to choose a good car.
     
  13. Jun 17, 2012 #12
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    Obviously some clarification is needed...

    Suppose that neither person A nor person B know anything about math. Person A spends 10 years killing hookers in Grand Theft Auto wile person B spends 10 years playing chess.

    Would person A have a harder time learning math?

    I've heard it before, I think from a teacher, that sitting still and doing nothing is better for your brain than watching television. Because the person doing nothing will at least be using their mind a bit, while the person watching TV is mindlessly receiving entertainment. If this is true, then shouldn't actively using your mind constantly have an effect greater than that of doing nothing, or of doing some mindless activity?
     
  14. Jun 17, 2012 #13
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    http://wimse.fsu.edu/media/expert-mind.pdf p.68
     
  15. Jun 18, 2012 #14
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    Zooby I'm not ignoring your post haha, it seems like a solid answer to my question. I'd just like to receive more input.
     
  16. Jun 18, 2012 #15
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?


    Your definition of smart is vague. You need to define function.
     
  17. Jun 18, 2012 #16
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    Skills, smarts, intelligence, all are greatly improved when a person is calm and relaxed. Stress, especially extended stress, makes people stupid and greatly dulls memory functions. Severe extended stress alone can cause hippocampal sclerosis. (The hippocampus is the part of the brain most responsible for memory.) I would say the single best thing a person can do to enhance raw "brain power" would be to practice some kind of relaxation technique.
     
  18. Jun 18, 2012 #17

    Evo

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  19. Jun 18, 2012 #18
    Re: Does Thinking Make You "Smarter"?

    SelfAdjoint actually first posted that article in 2006 and it stuck with me.
     
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