Learning music does not increase your cognitive abilities or the beauty of the useless – Explica

Chess Training

Playing chess, learning to play an instrument and a long list of activities that, until recently, were just hobbies, have acquired the status of something else: modifiers of our brain, enhancers of our mental architecture. These activities, in short, increase our memory, our cognition, our intelligence.

The problem is that the studies that indicate these associations are usually based on correlations: what happens is that the most intelligent people are the ones who decide to play chess? In fact, in a new review of Current Directions in Psychological Science, by Giovanni Sala and Fernand Gobet of the University of Liverpool, It is concluded that these activities only make you better in one thing: in those activities.

Sala and Gobet carried out three meta-analyzes (combining data from multiple previous studies), which include three activities that are strong candidates for a transfer of activity to some function of our brain: chess, music, and memory training. All of the research focused on children, because the most far-reaching benefits would be expected to be greatest in those whose cognitive ability is still developing.

The results suggested that chess or music instruction, or working memory training, led to small to moderate gains in broader skills, such as memory, general intelligence, and academic performance. But Sala and Gobet broke down the studies within the analyzes to find something discouraging: the size of the effects was inversely related to the quality of the experimental design.

Limiting the analysis to the best designed studies, found little or no important evidence. The only exception was a robust effect of working memory training on other memory tasks.

This is consistent with an in-depth evaluation of brain training published three years ago that concluded that brain training improves performance in the specific skills that are practiced, but that claims about its broader benefits have little support. once less strictly designed studies are discarded.

In other words: at the educational level there is very little evidence that these activities have significant benefits for students. They can be carried out as a hobby or leisure, or perhaps to instill a vocation, but little else.

Or, at the very least, it would be a bit dishonest to exaggerate their effects simply for the sake of introducing these subjects into the curriculum. As it happens, in fact, with many other subjects, as I explain in the following video (dedicated to all my teachers):

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Learning music does not increase your cognitive abilities or the beauty of the useless - Explica

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