Two recent studies have shown that there are real life-size benefits to playing in virtual reality.
A study published in April 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that less than six hours of brain games played over the course of ten weeks allowed frequently-absent first-graders—those who attend school irregularly due to family problems or income-related issues—to catch up with their regularly-attending peers in math and language grades, reports Dan Hurley in The Atlantic.
Another study, presented at the April 2014 Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting in Boston, aggregated data from 13 previous studies of computerized brain-training in young adults to ultimately conclude that training enhances what’s called “fluid intelligence,” or the fundamental human ability to detect patterns, reason, and learn.
Ergo, playing games makes people smarter.
Other scientists are calling for study replication and further experimentation. But, it’s not the first time that brainteasers and logic games have been linked to physical differences in the brain.
For example, a recent study from the University of California, Berkeley, published in the online journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, showed that applying to law school doesn’t just test your intelligence, it increases it.
How? Studying for the LSAT reinforces circuits in the brain and can bridge the gap between the right and left hemispheres, which, according to researchers, can improve an individual’s reasoning ability and possibly IQ score, reported Sam Favate for the Wall Street Journal.
Among those adults who studied, the brain scans showed an increase in connectivity between the frontal lobes of the brain, as well as between the frontal and parietal lobes, which are the areas of the brain associated with reasoning and thinking, summarizes Favate in the Wall Street Journal.
The LSAT is a unique exam made up of logic games. Essentially, the study is a continuation of the findings in children and young adults showing that analytical skills can be honed with repetition and practice.
The idea that critical thinking and eye for detail are actually skills to be cultivated, not born to an individual or certain personalities.
“What we were interested in is whether and how the brain changes as a result of LSAT preparation—which we think is, fundamentally, reasoning training,” said lead researcher Allyson Mackey, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.
“We wanted to show that the ability to reason is malleable in adults.”
The application for these findings is vast. Instead of requiring CLEs, should the American Bar Association require lawyers to complete a certain number of logic games or problem sets over the course of their career?
Should attorneys take the new LSAT exam each year, just to keep up their cognitive skills?
At your law firm, think about implementing informal “game nights” with prizes and rankings to incentivize participation. Not only will your employees have the opportunity to bond with one another during these social events, they will also hone their cognitive skills and increase brain development.
Find out who at the firm is involved in computer games and encourage them to get more law firm employees involved.
Playing games at your firm will boost interoffice morale, create a positive-competitive corporate culture, and strengthen the most important skill set required of its legal team—analytical thinking.