Let the brain take the strain?

Robert Reich wrote this book a long time ago (early 90s) called “The Work of Nations”- [the title an allusion to Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.”]

One of the most remembered ideas Reich threw out was that the future would see the rise of “symbolic analysts”

“Reich divides American jobs into three broad categories for assessing their contribution to new the global economy. These are “symbolic- analytic” services, routine production services, and “in-person” services. The first of these is carried out by what Reich calls “symbolic analysts” engineers, attorneys, scientists, professors, executives, journalists, consultants and other “mind workers” who engage in processing information and symbols for a living. These individuals, which make up roughly twenty percent of the labor force, occupy a privileged position in that they can sell their services in the global economy. They are well-educated and will occupy an even more advantageous position in society in the future.”

So, combine that with info-overload and your middle-class types (heck, everyone; why needlessly drag class warfare into all this) lives in terror of losing the plot.

And where there is a (perceived) need, can a kindly multi-national be far behind?

No, obviously not. That was a rhetorical question.

So for the last few years we’ve been treated to Cap’n Picard and Julie Walters and ex-Mrs Tom Cruise telling us they keep their grey matter in tip-top shape by using various ‘brain trainers.’

Hmm. Which? have done a study, and gues what, there’s no evidence the things work. The editor sensibly says-

“If people enjoy using these games then they should continue to do so- that’s really a no-brainer. But if people are under the illusion that these devices are scientifically proven to keep their minds in shape, they should think again.”


But of course, here comes the plaintive response from a games industry neuroscientist:

“Our study showed that after training for five weeks subjects didn’t just improve at the trained tasks, but they also improved on tests of memory and attention that were not part of the training.”

I know who I trust to do rigorous and reliable and valid research. Which? do you trust?

About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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