Summary of Getting Smarter

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Getting Smarter summary

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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.

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.


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, say, study a language while listening to nature sounds or music – even while you are asleep. Alas, it doesn’t work.

Similarly, popular brain-training programs that claim to enhance “working memory” and “attention control” don’t actually...

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