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Does not using the brain erode its power? If so, are perpetual brain exercises recommended to prevent (or increase) its power (chess, puzzles, etc)?

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closed as not a real question by Artem Kaznatcheev, Jeff, Josh Gitlin May 26 '13 at 13:31

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Welcome to CogSci! We expect some degree of initial research prior to phrasing a question so that people answering it have an easier time answering exactly which part you don't get/want to know more about. Try looking into the subject shortly yourself and please update your question reflecting your research, along with any open questions you might have. – Steven Jeuris May 21 '13 at 8:50
What do you mean by (a) "practicing the brain"? and (b) "brain power"? – Jeromy Anglim May 22 '13 at 13:12

Yes, brain power is eroded via a lack of practice. This occurs through the processes called synaptic pruning and brain plasticity.

I will leave you with a very basic answer as I am unsure of your level of understanding of cognitive processes. First, you must understand neurons. Then, you can begin to understand synaptic pruning and brain plasticity. Finally, here is a link to a bunch more information and brain plasticity exercises.

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Welcome to CogSci Shayna. The content of your answer (although I can't verify its correctness) seems good enough for the posed question. I reformatted it to leave out any of the unnecessary comments you made in there and edited in your more relevant comment. Leave comments as a comment and the answer in the answer. ;p Thanks! – Steven Jeuris May 21 '13 at 15:00
Thanks Steven! Unfortunately it wouldn't let me post a third link in the answer section, so I thought it would be better to post it as a comment than not at all. ;) For some reason I can't seem to just answer the CogSci questions... They're all much more complex than people think them to be as there are so many variables. sigh – Shayna May 21 '13 at 15:29
Oh right, you don't have enough rep for that yet. Here have another up vote to fix that. ;p Short 'keyword' answers are fine when answering such broad questions. In depth answers are only really expected when the question shows more effort and is more specific as well. – Steven Jeuris May 21 '13 at 15:32
Thank-you very much! I wish our rep would carry across all of SE though. That way you could be an "expert" in some areas and have an easier time requesting help in others... Yes, I must agree with you there. If someone hasn't put in the work to find out a little on their own I won't assume they have my knowledge of the subject when answering their question... I also don't like handing people the answers so much, thus why I provided links. :P – Shayna May 21 '13 at 20:33

Not using your brain might well be deleterious, but it's impossible not to use your brain unless you're in a coma or something. There are some cool studies on plasticity (see Shayna's answer above) in amputees, where the parts of the brain that control the amputated limb go unused but are taken up by other functions instead.

However, "perpetual brain exercises" like the brain training games/puzzles you see have shown no efficacy in actually increasing cognitive performance on any task, besides the specific game/puzzle you're playing. Playing a lot of chess does not make your brain any more powerful, it just makes you better at chess. See the following:

Owen, A.M., et al. (2010). Putting brain training to the test. Nature, 465(7299), 775-778.

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Thank-you abd! I suppose I should have added that perpetual brain exercise do not increase task performance... Keeping an active mind helps to keep our neurons active, which in turn helps to slow the process of synaptic pruning. – Shayna May 24 '13 at 6:35

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