Studying for the LSAT messed with your brain

August 29, 2012
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It turns out that preparing to take the LSAT causes tiny structural changes in the brain that physically bolster connections between the areas of the brain needed for reasoning. LSAT test prep providers rejoice.

Research released last week by neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkley, found that reason training does alter brain connections. Not only is this good news for those who run test prep services, but also for those who would like to improve their reasoning skills.

The study found that training people in reasoning skills – the main focus of LSAT prep courses – can possibly reinforce the brain’s circuits involved in thinking and reasoning. Your IQ may even increase.

But, don’t get too excited thinking that all that studying has made you permanently smarter.

“How you perform on one of these tests is not necessarily predictive of your future success, it merely reflects your prior history of cognitive engagement, and potentially how prepared you are at this time to enter a graduate program or a law school, as opposed to how prepared you could ever be,” according to senior author Silvia Bunge, associate professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology.

The researchers used diffusion tensor imaging scans of the brains of 24 college students or recent grads before and after 100 hours of LSAT training over a three-month period. When matched to the control group, the students preparing for the LSAT increased connectivity between the frontal lobes of the brain and between frontal and parietal lobes.

Here’s a news release from the school on the study, which goes into more detail about the study.
 

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