Read Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power by Dan Hurley Online


Can you make yourself, your kids, and your parents smarter?Expanding upon one of the most-read New York Times Magazine features of 2012, Smarter penetrates the hot new field of intelligence research to reveal what researchers call a revolution in human intellectual abilities. Shattering decades of dogma, scientists began publishing studies in 2008 showing that “fluid intelCan you make yourself, your kids, and your parents smarter?Expanding upon one of the most-read New York Times Magazine features of 2012, Smarter penetrates the hot new field of intelligence research to reveal what researchers call a revolution in human intellectual abilities. Shattering decades of dogma, scientists began publishing studies in 2008 showing that “fluid intelligence”—the ability to learn, solve novel problems, and get to the heart of things—can be increased through training.But is it all just hype? With vivid stories of lives transformed, science journalist Dan Hurley delivers practical findings for people of every age and ability. Along the way, he narrates with acidtongued wit his experiences as a human guinea pig, road-testing commercial brain-training programs, learning to play the Renaissance lute, getting physically fit, even undergoing transcranial directcurrent stimulation.Smarter speaks to the audience that made bestsellers out of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain and Moonwalking with Einstein....

Title : Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781594631276
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 275 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power Reviews

  • Perry
    2019-05-03 17:05

    Bought on sale. Didn't work. May sound good, but no easy way to "build" brain "power." Not saying it won't work 4 you, but the video shows how, not long ago, a former disciple reacted after completing suggested brain exercises.

  • Aaron Thibeault
    2019-05-05 00:51

    *A full executive summary of this book is available here: main argument: The idea that we can boost our brain power through interventions of various kinds has been around a long time. Over the years, numerous drugs, diets and other practices (including everything from physical exercise to learning a new language or musical instrument to meditation to even zapping the brain with electrodes) have been purported to pump up our mental strength. And lately, a new practice has been added to this list: brain-training games and exercises. Indeed, in the past decade a whole new industry has emerged around brain-training programs. Built on the premise that specific types of mental activities can strengthen our cognitive skills and add to general intelligence, companies such as Lumosity and LearningRx have convinced millions of paying customers that their product will give them an edge in the brains department.The more skeptical among us, however, may find ourselves wondering just what is the scientific basis behind all these brain games and other interventions. It was just this thought that occurred to science writer Dan Hurley; and so, following his skeptical sense, Hurley decided to investigate the matter for himself. What Hurley found was a scientific field that, though young, is bustling with activity (and controversy).The new science of building brain power may be said to have truly kicked off in 2002. In that year, Swedish psychologist Torkel Klingberg performed a study wherein he found that subjects diagnosed with ADHD improved in both attention span and general intelligence after undergoing a brain-training program that involved working-memory exercises (it was this very study that kick-started the brain training industry).The finding flew in the face of the long-accepted belief that intelligence simply could not be enhanced through training; and therefore, it sparked a great deal of interest in the scientific community. Eager to test the new finding, scientists from all over the world launched their own studies. While not all of the studies replicated the results that Klingberg found, many did; and enough promising results were found to draw even more interest into the field (while those who found negative results began setting up a staunch opposition to the research).Despite the minority opposition, the long-held belief in immovable intelligence was rocked, and scientists began testing other kinds of interventions as well (including all of those mentioned above). While many of the interventions tested were found to have no effect on cognitive functioning, some did, and thus the new field gained even more momentum.Wanting very much to get to the bottom of the matter (and the controversy) Hurley decided to check out the studies himself, and also to interview the major researchers in the field (on both sides of the debate). Based on this investigation (which is explored at length in the book), Hurley launched his own brain-training experiment–on himself. Specifically, Hurley took all of those interventions which he felt had the best evidence behind them and incorporated them into a grand brain-training program to see whether he could improve his intelligence.The routine included the following: A boot camp program (that incorporated both aerobic exercise and resistance training); Lumosity; learning a new musical instrument (the lute); mindfulness meditation; a nicotine patch; coffee; and transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS). The results of the experiment? They were mixed.Hurley's exploration of the new field of building brain power (as well as his own experiment on himself) is fascinating (and often hilarious). One of the strong points of the book is how much detail Hurley gives regarding the experiments that he investigates. However, there is one detail that Hurley often leaves out that would be nice to have: rather than specifying exactly how much a given intervention improved intelligence in terms of percentages, Hurley often confines himself to mentioning whether the improvement was statistically significant or not (which leaves us without a good indication of exactly how well a given intervention worked). Still, Hurley's book is very well researched, and both highly interesting and entertaining. A great resource for those who are interested in getting past the hype of brain boosting, and investigating the actual science. A full executive summary of the book is available here: a podcast discussion of the book will be available soon.

  • Brian Clegg
    2019-05-15 16:36

    The knee-jerk reaction on seeing this book was ‘it’s going to be rubbish’, as it is widely publicised that most commercial ‘brain training’ products have no more value than any activity that keeps the mind active, from reading a book to chatting to a next-door neighbour. And while an active mind is valuable in keeping alert in old age, it gives no advantages in terms of ‘brain power’ whether you consider that as IQ or something a bit more subtle.In fact, I needn’t have worried, because Dan Hurley is aware of this, and is approaching a very specific aspect of training, using an intense methodology, which has shown some interesting results in proper scientific testing.Along the way, he decides to see if he can enhance his own brain, so takes a MENSA test, then engages in as many brain enhancing activities as he can before being re-tested – from physical exercise to a nicotine patch – which have been shown to have some benefit in mental acuity. Perhaps the most interesting bit of the book is where he assesses all the different possibilities, dismissing some (eating the right thing, apart from drinking coffee, for instance) and taking others on board, all based on our best current science.Another favourite is the final section, where we see played out a significant battle between academics, some sticking to the traditional argument that all training does is train you to be better at that particular test, some open to a wide range of possibilities. It’s interesting, apart from anything else, to show just how different theories are sometimes handled in the academic community.The only part of the book I felt didn’t quite work was a longish section on Down’s syndrome, not because it wasn’t important or interesting, but because it didn’t quite fit with everything else, centred around Hurley’s personal test, and the result was that overall the book’s structure seemed a little haphazard.As long as you don’t object too much to the author’s slightly patronising magazine writer’s style, that makes him feel the urge to put in a number of unnecessary personal descriptions (take for instance ‘Tall, blond and good-looking: in another words, a typical Swiss’), this should prove a fascinating read on a truly interesting topic.

  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    2019-05-09 22:53

    Can we make ourselves smarter? Dan Hurley tries to answer that question by first interviewing many intelligence researchers and then trying the most promising strategies himself. This involves everything from exercising to learning the renaissance lute to wearing a nicotine patch. The results include some actionable advice and lots of fun stories.As a scientist, I think we need more people like Dan Hurley – one for every subject! The first half of this book contained the same information as a review article for the field of intelligence research. It read like a story. The research was explained clearly and simply for a general audience. Areas where scientists disagree or are uncertain were clearly distinguished from known facts. And in a brilliant move that gave this section a narrative, the research is explained as the author shares his experiences talking to researchers. Conversations, first-hand views of research labs, and witty asides keep this potentially dry section moving right along.The second half of the book describes the author application of what he learned to his own life. This included adding a lot of things to his daily routine, so it was both hectic and humorous. I appreciated that the author made it clear his results were unique to him. No conclusions were drawn from his sample size of one. It did, however, make for a good story. It also gave the author more room to include his experiences with different brain-training techniques. I would love to see more fields of research summarized in such an accessible way. Highly recommended for anyone who likes books with lots of fun facts, who appreciates accurate science, or who has wondered if we can learn to be smarter.This review first published on Doing Dewey.

  • Tim
    2019-05-16 23:37

    An enjoyable read, but then I take great interest in these sorts of books. Reading through the first chapter, I thought, "wow, this is amazing! Except, I wonder what Randall Engle would say?" (I actually did ask myself that) Not to worry because Dan Hurley represents most all of the sides on the debate in this book. For reference, I knew going in that Randall Engle had tested and shown that working memory could be expanded but that fluid intelligence remained unchanged. I didn't realize that if I just turned the page to chapter two, he'd be featured prominently there and throughout as the book's antagonist.There is one minor question, potentially an issue, that I have. In chapter four, Hurley mentions a study that found a negative correlation between prenatal fish oil supplementation and child IQ. Because this finding is so counter-intuitive, I have a lot of questions about it, such as: Was the sample size significant? Were the IQ difference significant? What factors were controlled for? etc. None of those questions were answered in the book and yet Hurley comes right out and says, "for now, at least, no solid body of scientific evidence proves that any other dietary intervention makes a difference to intellectual abilities -- other than fish oil supplementation for pregnant women, which actually looks harmful for infants' development." (p 75)For what it's worth, I'd expect at least no significant correlation or a very minor positive one; not a negative one.I'll have to do a little digging in the notes and will edit the review the best as I can.

  • Katie
    2019-04-30 19:58

    It's an ok review of the topics, a quick read, but not very scientific or detailed. It's got a lot of padding about his experimentation on himself, which was basically unsuccessful. Might be worth it if you aren't already familiar with the topics (n-back, meditation, nootropics, etc) but if you are, you probably already know more than what's in this book.

  • Andy Gagnon
    2019-04-30 21:35

    This writing of this book bounced between glib and tedious. It drew no firm conclusions other than the obvious: exercise is good for the mind, playing a musical instrument is rewarding, brain games are mildly stimulating. The author is not a good science writer.

  • Jake McCrary
    2019-05-15 17:39

    Book that gives an overview of research that attempts to answer if we can train ourselves to be smarter.Dan Hurley goes through the research and tries to identify a handful of things to try on himself to make himself smarter. The things he introduces into his life are exercise, learning a musical instrument, brain training games, nicotine, meditation, and transcranial direct-current stimulation. He ends up not sticking with meditation.Most of the book is spent presenting the scientific debate around trying to make people smarter. Can you train yourself with a game to get smarter in general and not just better at the game? Can you improve your general working memory in a way that increases your fluid intelligence? Is fluid intelligence different from working memory?I thought this was a pretty interesting book and would recommend it. If you want a more solid summary of the book this review contains more details.

  • Ryan Hinchman
    2019-05-11 17:48

    A great review of the contradicting evidence trying to answer if brain training works. Hurley is not proposing a scientific study but submits himself to all the scientifically proven potential intelligence enhancers to see if he can boost his IQ. There are no easy answers as he interviews PHDs with contradicting points of view. I downloaded the dual n back test after reading. My favorite section was on the brain's explore or exploit functions and how memory works.

  • Karl-Martin Miil
    2019-05-17 23:46

    good science

  • Chris
    2019-04-26 21:50

    The field of study of finding out whether or not one can increase their intelligence is riddled with yes and no answers. Dan Hurley, the author, explained that many times he would see promising results only to be told by the author of a study that the results were only mixed and that it didn't show anything significant, even though many of the participants in the studies would say otherwise.The world we live in today is more complicated than it was 30 or 40 years ago. The only information you received was through your TV and the newspaper, everything else was heresay and gossip. Today we live in a world with access to information from all points of the globe. If I need to know what is happening in Chile with up-to-the-minute information i can do that now. I can use google to track certain phrases that are being searched all over the world. I can study analytic charts with real-time information on the stock market and order my groceries and check the upcoming forcast without leaving my computer.Our brains are processing more information today than anyone did 20 years ago on a daily basis. Kids and teens who run their own social media accounts interact with data that only business students in college were taught how to do 3 decades ago, now anyone can. We consume more information today than an Englishman would in an entire year back in the 17th century. Our brains have to evolve in order to keep up so it's no wonder you see more and more programs popping up that promise to make you smarter. But why would anyone want to do that, except for the reason to look and act smart?Being smart, for some, equals, being able to remember and hold on to more information and recall it when needed. That is a gift that many people wish they had but for those that understand how memory works, it's a very hard skill to pick up. No one wants to work hard anymore and that is why more and more studies are being done on whether or not you can increase intelligence. If researchers can pinpoint the exact task and activity that will make you smarter then they will have struck gold, which is what a lot of online programs promise you.Mr. Hurley found that there were many programs available to help increase intelligence, he learned that nicotine actually helped, exercise showed improvements, learning to play an instrument played a role and playing memory games kept the neurons going. But is that all? For the average individual, yes. The only problem is that if going to the gym is hard enough to keep people in shape (just look at the number of overweight people today) then what makes you think that people are going to keep up with trying to be smarter everyday. If it doesn't come in a pill form, than chances are people won't keep up with it. This is really the case since exercise is part of a balanced intelligence training regime.I found this book to give me some tips on what I needed to do to help increase my intelligence. It was not information that was new but good enough that it brought to light new programs to follow and stick with. Sorry to tell you this but there is no pill for that and only hard work ahead if you want to prove that you can work at becoming smart. What many people want to know is whether or not you can increase your intelligence if they were to read this book. The answer is yes you will learn how to do that and different ways to do it with BUT if you spent your childhood years playing video games and mindless staring at the TV screen drooling all the time instead of actively engaged in those activities and other physically engaging activities outside then your brain, as an adult, has already created and solidified the neural pathways it needs in order to carry out daily tasks. BUT if you grew up in a home where you were engage with many different tasks (i.e., learning an instrument, playing sports, knowing how to watch movies and TV shows, attending social events, sitting down and talking with your family and friends, learning how to study, active in school programs) then your brain has created many more neural pathways for you to be able to learn new information faster. This is why is it very difficult to learn a new language later on in life because your brain has already created what it thinks it will need in life and after a certain point it gets harder to pick up on new things.So if you enjoy reading and learning what it takes to make yourself smarter then jump right on in, you will see what some of the research covers. If you are just here to read the reviews to determine whether it's worth reading or not, then chances are you might get bored with it. Go drink some Jamba juice, listen to your classical music and work on the latest New York crossword puzzle. I won't lie that it can get pretty dry at some points and dull in others if you have never read stuff like this before but for those who have, it's very interesting to read and fun....if your already smart.

  • Sal Coraccio
    2019-05-15 23:05

    Quite an inspiring read - and I just love the cover icon; genius. The main idea here is that there is enough scientific evidence to show that certain types of cognitive exercises can increase fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence; working memory, deductive/inductive reasoning, (new) problem solving. Differentiated from crystallized intelligence which relates to the application of skills, experience - using long-term memory.This is a hot topic as for many years the deed has been considered impossible, that one is as likely to increase their intelligence as they are to change the color of their eyes (yes, I know - 'contacts' - don't be an ass). So, those who are on the "nope" side tend to be entrenched in their belief. Communication of the state of the "art" through popular media channels has been particularly sketchy at best, and badly misinterpreted. If you haven't read the studies of the journals themselves, then you don't know diddly.In this book, the author explores most of the key techniques shown to be effective by many experiments - subjecting himself to them. He performs before and after measurements as well. I'll leave the result for you to read about.But, he does the following: N-Back exercises, Lumosity training, exercise, meditation, learning a musical instrument, nicotine patch, and external electric brain stimulation. He admits that his approach isn't scientific - he's a journalist, not a doctor.He theorizes that if he sees results, then it doesn't matter what specific technique caused it - one of them did, and that is enough for him to show an increase is possible.So, I'll tell you what I think of that. While I admire his "all in" approach, I'd have preferred a bit more of a logical approach.More focus on "the order of operations" and a more measured approach. For example, there's ample evidence to show that exercise significantly aids learning (basically the exertion causes brain matter growth and that becomes fertile ground for new knowledge) - and it doesn't take much of it; 30 minutes of walking has been shown effective in experiments (see the book "Spark", for one).He works out for several hours, and does so after his N-back and Lumosity sessions. For that to work the effect would have to span longer than most experiments have shown.If he'd done a half-hour just prior to the "brain training" he'd likely see larger results. I don't mean to give the impression he completely f'd it all up - I don't think that at all, nor do I think I'm really qualified to make such an attack. But I do think there's room for a book that does make a more choreographed approach, as much as can be done anyway, given the span of studies available, some of them conflicting.I might just write that one, but I'm quite happy I found this one. As an aside, I've been using some of the techniques described here; exercise coupled with N-back trials in particular, for a few weeks now. Lumosity training, by the way, appears to be too diluted to my taste, filled with fluff to make the user more likely to return than to see any real cognitive gains. And N-back programs are free...I find, when I've had enough rest, (which does not include this particular day, btw) that while I'm not on the brink of a cure for cancer, I have been handling learning 3 languages simultaneously (two I have some familiarity with and one where I'm a complete newb) - without as much anguish as I have had learning just one. And much of "why did I open the fridge again?" seems absent. But I will say, that when I'm worn out - I am really worn out; errors of all kinds abound. This much thinking takes a tremendous amount of energy. A good diet and exercise to the rescue.... well, that and sleep. Sleeeeep....Purely a subjective analysis, of course, and likely some cognitive biases at work - but, then again... So - "Smarter" is a nice addition to the books on the topic of human cognition, and significant in that it is a very current overview of the prevailing scientific thought on the possibility that cognitive training can indeed increase fluid intelligence.At A Very Minimum, one would be doing themselves a grand service if they simply did two things; exercise (in nearly any capacity) followed by N-back trails or learning a language (or both). The sooner you start, the better. Read the book to find out why.

  • Feisty Harriet
    2019-05-25 18:39

    This was okay, but not great. The basic premise surrounds whether or not there are activities or exercises we can do to strengthen our brains and make us smarter. The short answer: yes, to a degree. Things that make your brain run smoother and faster can increase it's capacity: listening to classical music stimulates neurons, but only a little. Getting enough sleep and plenty of exercise strengthens your neuro-network, but only a little. Brain-stimulating puzzles and play can increase your capacity, but only a little. In combination, you may be able to increase your brain power a little bit, but only by a few IQ points. Now. If you have had some kind of brain trauma there is a lot more room for improvement, healing, and growth, but no one wants to wish crippling brain trauma on a person in order to prove "get smart quick" schemes.

  • Lisa Biskup
    2019-05-18 19:47

    I picked up this book because I enjoy reading about the latest research related to learning, neuroscience and personal growth. Overall the book is interesting and the author provides a good overview of the debate over whether or not it is possible to increase your fluid intelligence and working memory. The author himself reviews the various methods that are supposed to help you improve your intelligence, and chooses some of them to do himself: learning a musical instrument, playing brain games on Lumosity, mindfulness meditation, N-back practice and getting low-level electricity to his brain. He implements these strategies and in the end declares that he "feels smarter". While the stories are interesting and they do provide some insight into how scientists are trying to discover just what can be done to improve our intelligence (they don't all agree), I didn't walk away with a clear plan of action that would definitely work to make you smarter. Instead, I finished the book wondering whether or not it even mattered. In the real world (not the lab), it is possible to improve your skills. You can study, read, experiment and build skills in many different areas of your life, which will lead you to success and happiness, no matter what your IQ is. There is an entire industry that helps people improve their scores on standardized tests (SAT, GRE, GMAT), even though these tests are accepted as "intelligence tests" by organizations such as MENSA (which means your scores should not change much). It just seems like common sense to focus on the things that interest you and build the skills you actually want to have, rather than work on things that may (or may not) transfer to those areas over time. That is, learning an instrument may be great for you, but if you don't really like it and you'd rather be a scientist, there are other ways to spend your time that may be just as good or better to increase your performance in the sciences (esp. related to the skills necessary to succeed in that area). The possibility of "being smarter" is certainly appealing to people and therefore there is a HUGE market for products that will make this claim, but in the end, it seems more productive to just do the things you love and build skills in areas that are important to you. And if you want, play some brain games, learn an instrument, meditate, get enough sleep, etc.This book may be interesting to people who like to think about the concept of intelligence and working memory, such as parents, teachers, researchers, students, and marketers.

  • Scott Wozniak
    2019-05-20 16:57

    A revolution has been going on in the area of brain science. About 10-15 years ago the idea that intelligence was fixed by genetics was challenged. It started with a single research study, but it has exploded to hundreds on the topic. Dan Hurley waded into the controversies and breakthroughs, with one big question driving him: Can I make myself smarter?Taking us on the journey with him, he explores all the options and gives his conclusion on whether they're legit or not. And then he picked seven--those the research says have a real shot at improving brain function--and did them for several months. He took a battery of accepted intelligence tests before and after...but I'll let you read the ending to see if it worked.For me, there was one HUGE concept in this book. Hurley addressed the challenge that many scientists have made, namely that each of these brain training programs only gets you better at that particular test--that you can't improve overall intelligence, only get better at particular skills. I'd heard that enough that I came to believe it--like the book I read on memory training where they guy learns to remember strings of numbers, but can't do it with letters, let alone have a better memory in real life. Hurley shows that while this can be true when you use special techniques (like the memory guy did), there are other approaches that have been shown to increase overall intelligence.However, he does a good job explaining that there are limits. Genetics are still the largest factor in setting intelligence levels--we don't all start identical. We just get to add to whatever we started with. Oh, and the studies show that those who started with lower intelligence scores benefit the most from training--they can catch up some on those who started smarter.Well written and important, if you're curious about the latest thinking on brain science, this is a great read for you.

  • Ron
    2019-05-25 18:01

    This was a good follow-up read to the books I've been reading lately on intelligence and practice, which all converge on the idea that expertise requires a hell of a lot of practice. This author looks at general intelligence, and whether there is an intellectual trait that is transferable rather than specific to be useful in all different areas of life, and that can be improved. All the talent books (The Talent Code, Talent Is Overrated, The Genius in Each of Us)all agree on the idea of deliberate practice, and that the skills produced are not domain specific. For example, being great at chess doesn't make you great at business or military strategy; all that chess practice just makes you great at chess. There's no general strategy skill to be developed, only strategy within particular domains that you practice. Well, for as encouraging as that is (you can get good at something with enough practice), it's also discouraging (you're going to be mediocre at everything else unless you can invest in this kind of practice in multiple domains). But what if some aspect of intelligence is transferable, and that aspect can be trained? This is the question he pursues, as he looks at the research and tries out a bunch of methods on himself. The results aren't astounding, but they do appear to be there. That "appear" is perhaps the most interesting part of this book. This book isn't just about increasing your intelligence, it's also a great demonstration about how science gets done and how ideas get tested and challenged in their early stages. The conflicts between the scientists working on this frontier are the most entertaining stories he tells. Definitely worth a read, and a great balance to all the "deliberate practice" books that have become popular since Gladwell's Outliers.

  • Michael Loveless
    2019-05-24 20:01

    This was an interesting book, but it had some significant flaws. The author set out to answer the question, "Can a person become smarter." The traditional wisdom was that although you can improve your skills and knowledge, your IQ cannot be altered. The book talks a lot about working memory as the measure of intelligence. In other words how much information can you hold in your brain and manipulate. For instance if I said a string of numbers and asked you to repeat them, that is simple memory, but if I said a string of numbers and when I finished I asked you to add every third number and then subtract that sum from the sum of every second number, that is working memory. The author did a considerable amount of research into things like food, drugs, and activities that have been suggested to increase intelligence. He found good evidence that the following things increase intelligence: physical training, learning a musical instrument, mindfulness meditation, brain training games (like Lumosity), coffee, and nicotine. The research he presented was pretty convincing. The book was ultimately disappointing in a couple of ways. The author went into a great amount of detail about things that were not important. Rather than just give a short quote from a researcher he interviewed, he would describe the flight he took to the city, what the person was wearing, what they ate while they talked, etc. Another disappointment was the final result of his experiment. The author decided to try almost all of the things that the research supported to see if he could get smarter. The measurable results of his experiment were somewhat mixed. Most, but not all of the tests showed a small improvement. After six months of trying everything to get smarter, the results were anti-climactic.

  • Matt Stevens
    2019-05-14 23:36

    The book was an ok read, but not great. I wouldn't recommend it to really anyone. The author basically gets stuck in the argument of whether brain training actually makes the brain smarter, or only helps the individual do that skill better. For example, sodoku in theory could help you smarter, but the evidence is that playing sodoku only actually makes you better at sodoku. Contrast this to a football player who is lifting weights (squats) in the gym. By doing squats, he is getting better at doing squats, but he is also becoming better at other skills (running faster, better endurance) because his muscles are growing. We are lacking conclusive evidence that brain training helps processing in other areas. However, there is significant evidence that brain training does increase stamina and also helps people think more organized, both of which are significant. Also, for people who encounter complex scenarios which can be mapped ahead of time, training will help them make significantly better decisions and make them quicker. Training should exist for people encounter War Games scenarios or EMTs or Doctors. Extensie, systematic, where the complexity of the situation goes up at the person being trained develops more skills. This will ensure that the individual being trained continues to grow. But overall, should you read this book? Mehh. I'd keep looking for something else that really jumped out at you. If its already on your to-read this, then go ahead and go for it and you might enjoy it more than I did.

  • Randy
    2019-05-07 19:53

    I'm not sure what to think about this book. It is a great overview of the literature and researchers working on the problem of improving 'fluid intelligence' and 'working memory'. The n-back brain training game is highly featured in all this work, but so are things like exercise, learning to play and instrument and the idea that it might be a good idea to wear a nicotine patch. The last suggestion is not a joke, but I think the author is wrong about potential dangers of using nicotine even via a patch (he acknowledges that smoking is a terrible idea). The writing is humorous, well researched, and by making himself a test subject, Hurley gives a first hand account of what it feels like (i.e. Bootcamp exercise is hell...yup). He also gives a very rarely seen accurate view of what it's like to be a researcher in a contentious new field where strong, and differing opinions are mixed with status and reputations. The interactions between the senior researchers in the field and the junior ones is spot on from my experience. I still question how much transfer to other tasks training on things like n-back will give anyone, but I do know that mindfulness meditation, exercise, music and playing chess do make me feel less stress and better overall than I did before I was doing all of them - which is the same conclusion the author ends with. Doing these things makes you feel great, which is a smarter way to live. Whether you are really smarter as a result, I still can't say.

  • Sandi
    2019-05-26 18:38

    Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain PowerDan Hurley 4 out of 5 StarsIt's hard to get empirical research statistics from social research because sociology, by definition, is a malleable thing. In other words, data regarding rules, norms, and behaviors changes all the time. In fact, anytime two or more people get together, they "develop" a new social group and sociology results from the group conscious. That being said, Hurley does a fairly good job of forcing the round peg (social intelligence) into the square hole of empirical data, or "hard numbers," such as an IQ score.Smarter is written in a conversational style which is more familiar to people reading magazine feature articles. It is very well written but, again, the foundation is not a solid, quantifiable matter. Can people actually "build brain power?" Evidence would tell us that those who learn new skills and concepts, and otherwise engage in various sorts of sensory stimuli are more apt to effectively use their "brain power" to meet life challenges. Overall, they live longer, more fulfilling lives and are less likely to succumb to various forms of dementia. Dan Hurley did a great job of explaining the various tests used to measure intelligence and the various programs out there that claim to make you Smarter. Still, the book winds up being a sort of info-mercial for (Just calling it like I see it.)

  • Nancy
    2019-05-22 21:35

    When I heard part of a Dan Hurley interview on NPR, I immediately wanted to read this book. There are ways to increase your intelligence? What are they? I really want to know. Smarter is not one of those books that promotes some new diet that will cure what ails you, backing it up with anecdotal evidence. Dan Hurley interviews many scientists and discusses a number of studies, so many that, at times, you just want him to shut up and cut to the chase. (Hence 4 stars, not 5.) Still, the book is well worth reading for activities that can increase brain power or stave off dementia. At 65, I am mostly looking for ways of holding on to what I have. I was happy to learn there is evidence that coffee and walking are good for delaying Alzheimer's disease. I already enjoy going for a walk with a friend to a coffee shop. Now I can claim I'm doing it for my brain. There is more to the book than that. Hurley tells you which Lumosity games are backed by the real science, how to find a you tube video of exercises that seem to make a difference for older people both physically and mentally, and which free on line games could increase your fluid intelligence. And there is music, nicotine, meditation and more. Something for everyone. Well worth reading.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-13 19:59

    Probably about a 3.5, but I did enjoy this and read it quickly, so I'll round up instead of down.Smarter reminded me a lot of Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. Hurley provides a pretty extensive but accessible overview of various brain training techniques available and the scientific research of memory improvement. It's heavier on the science than Foer's book, but in a good way -- I found the studies that Hurley discussed fascinating. Hurley also attempts to improve his own memory using some of the programs/techniques that he described in the book and reports on his results. That was actually the one area of the book that I was a bit disappointed with; Hurley spends a good amount of time describing how he chose what to do to try to improve his memory, but the section where he talks about his results seemed a little rushed. I would have loved to hear more about his own personal experiences, in the way that Foer expanded upon his own personal experiences more in Moonwalking with Einstein. Other than that though, I found Smarter to be a really interesting book delving into a fascinating area of scientific research.I received an advance digital galley of this book through Penguin's First to Read program.

  • Sean Kottke
    2019-05-26 20:50

    A highly readable review of the research on various means of improving working memory and fluid intelligence, coupled with a first-person, single-subject experiment. Not surprisingly, no single intervention is promoted as a panacea for improving these functions, and while the vast majority of studies reviewed demonstrate statistically significant improvements with effect sizes of varying degrees, Hurley does give skeptics their day in court. Is it better to be measurably smarter or to feel smarter? A compelling question, not unlike something Billy Crystal's Fernando might ask. In the end, the review is a refreshing counterpoint to Gladwell, Goleman and Tough, who have written equally compelling books on affective and dispositional factors that "count" more than any kind of innate conception of intelligence. There's some solid debunking and tempering of others' bold claims here, with appropriately modest claims for the power of a mixed approach to improving one's faculties: play some games, learn a musical instrument and another language to the point of fluency, exercise the body, drink coffee and/or nicotine (but not tobacco) and meditate.

  • Bob Collins
    2019-05-03 22:40

    Well-written review of the recent research on improving working memory and fluid intelligence (the underlying ability to learn, the capacity to solve novel problems, see underlying patterns, and figure out things that were never explicitly taught).Hurley personalized the work by trying some of the techniques that research indicates may have a positive effect on working memory and fluid intelligence.He interviewed many of the scientists doing those studies, examined programs like Luminosity (it passed his smell test) and spends a good bit of time showing both sides of the scientific picture. Not all researchers are convinced working memory or fluid intelligence can be increased. Not all studies show definite results, but many do, and many researchers are encouraged by current findings.It is a slippery subject and Hurley does a good job of letting the scientists speak for themselves, and letting the reader make up his or her own mind about the evidence (though Hurley does admit his take on the evidence).His personal experiment paid off, thought not uniformly in all areas that he tested (before and after).All in all, an interesting read. Recommended.

  • Pb
    2019-05-05 00:45

    I just looked through a copy of this book from the local library, and read some parts more than others. Dan Hurley is definitely a gifted writer. He does make the neuroscience of working memory and fluid intelligence sound exciting and on the leading edge of contemporary scientific developments. The book "Smarter" is a convincing advertisement for and N-back. I bought in since I like to try new things, especially when the price is right. I wonder if and N-back will have more or less effect on myself than it did on Hurley who has a Mensa IQ of 136? That's a very high score! Even so, it's interesting to have Hurley describe, in detail, his use of 7 methods for improving fluid intelligence. The book would be even more interesting if the main example were of someone, say, with IQ of 120-125 who would probably demonstrate more significant improvements in their skills. The book hints that those people who have a relatively low working memory and fluid intelligence to start with, will show the most gains from using the methods outlined in Dan Hurley's "Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power"? One exception, as Hurley points out, are "gamers."

  • Jim Razinha
    2019-05-04 23:39

    Excellent book. Okay, I was primed to like it, as I've been fascinated for many, many years with intelligence, IQ test, cognitive issues and brain functions. I've never believed (admittedly, without any evidence to confirm or deny) that intelligence change was one-way -negative - I liked Josh Foer's Moonwalking With Einstein (mind you, I've also never confused intelligence and IQ with memory.) Where Moonwalking focused on memory and extreme memory competitions, Smarter covered so much more ground. From brain training software to regimens to drugs, Hurley looks at the current and past research. As is Foer, he's a journalist and not an "expert", and he does an excellent job making the subject matter readable.What I really liked about Hurley's book is that he presented both the proponents for the various approaches and the critics. Well balanced. I was aware of a few things Hurley explored but want to check out some of the others. Even if I don't get "smarter", I want to delay getting less smart as long as possible.

  • Ron Lunde
    2019-05-20 23:42

    Very interesting, funny at times, and full of interesting tidbits. Dan Hurley explores the question "can people increase their fluid intelligence" (that is, intelligence that applies across many areas), as well as related topics such as Downs syndrome and whether it is to some degree "treatable" (in the sense that cognitive abilities are improved).The cast of characters he talks about include researchers from all over the world, as well as companies trying to make money off the promise of making people smarter. The academic politics and infighting is fierce and a little disturbing (to me), since it sounds like some researchers make a name for themselves by finding fault with others, sometimes spinning positive results to make them look negative--in other words, hiding the truth, rather than revealing it.Dan Hurley also tries out a number of the most promising methods on himself, and the story line about that is fun and compelling. You'll need to read the book to find out what happens.

  • Emily Moore
    2019-05-11 19:36

    This was very interesting, and the things you learn about intelligence and cognitive functioning are very encouraging if you are looking to improve the stuff in between your ears. HOWEVER... this book might be a little dry for readers who are not absolutely fascinated by case control studies, memory training techniques, and arguments between neurologists and psychologists. The biggest take away is that, YES, scientific studies have slowly found that we humans are able to increase our fluid intelligence. We are NOT forever stamped with a stagnant IQ score that we receive from the universe and genetics. You can implement certain techniques (brain and memory training) and lifestyle choices (exercise and mindfulness meditation) that have shown to increase brain power. If you'd like to read HOW the author and his colleagues came to these conclusions, then by all means, read the entire book. If not, then I don't recommend reading through the whole thing just to "find out what happens." Like I said, you may find it a little dry.

  • Dan Connors
    2019-04-28 18:00

    This book explores an important idea but is way too long for me. I got lost in the middle as the author goes into great depth about various scientists and their studies.The key idea of this book- that mental power and fluid intelligence can be improved with training and work, puts the pressure on most of us that our mental state is pliable and greatly under our control. If you are losing your memory, focus or mental clarity, there are things you can do about it, including Lumosity, reading, exercise, taking up music, and basically stretching your brain to do things you are not very good at. After we become adults, however, many of us avoid things that are hard or that we aren't good at. This book makes the point that the extra effort is worth it, as the author examines study after study and uses his own personal experiment to show how his mental energy improved..

  • Simon Smith
    2019-05-16 21:57

    This is a well-written and engaging look at the science of cognitive enhancement. It includes a wide-ranging overview of research and the scientists behind it. Those seeking a practical step-by-step guide to improving cognition, however, might be disappointed. Despite the author self-experimenting, based on his anecdotal self-report it is impossible to separate out which interventions are most likely to work for the average reader. In the end, you will be left to choose which to pursue. If you're already familiar with what's out there, this might not leave you much further ahead from a self-enhancement planning standpoint than when you started. However, if your goal is to gain a richer understanding of research on cognitive enhancement, you won't be disappointed.