Summary of Getting Smarter

Brain-training games won’t boost your IQ, but a host of strategies can improve your cognitive abilities one piece at a time


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Getting Smarter summary
Is supercharging your IQ through cognitive training just a pipe dream?


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Can you boost your IQ in a quick and easy manner? Psychologist and radiologist Jeffrey M. Zacks of Washington University examines several techniques which purportedly enhance human cognition. Zacks devotes much of his critical analysis to debunking false claims and highlighting risks, but he offers some hope for individuals willing to devote time and effort to cognitive improvement. To the lazy self-improvers, getAbstract recommends heeding the main message: No shortcut will significantly enhance a person’s intelligence. Sorry.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How much popular “brain training” programs affect human IQ,
  • Whether cognitive-boosting drugs and electrical stimulation work, and
  • How task-specific training and exercise can improve your IQ.


Americans love the promise of easy self-improvement. Consumers looking for a “quick fix” turn to products promising cognitive enhancement. But do any of the techniques work? Subliminal training programs claim that you won’t even realize you’re learning: Hidden messages in a recording will help you, ...
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About the Author

Jeffrey M. Zacks is a professor of psychology and radiology at Washington University. His latest book is Flicker: Your Brain on Movies.

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