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Can Cramming Bolster Your Brain?

A new study questions the benefits that intense cramming sessions could have on your brain.

Are you one of those students notorious for taking it easy and having fun until just before finals knowing that with some cramming time you’ll still perform well on your tests? Recently, neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley examined that cramming sessions theory as they tracked students preparing for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), an exam well known for assessing reasoning skills.

The study, published in the Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, closely examined the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) brain scans of 45 college students. The participants of the study were broken into two groups. One group included 23 participants enrolled in an intense LSAT prep course, while the second group had 22 members of comparable age and IQ who were also planning to take the LSAT, yet not enrolled in any prep courses.

Researchers took DTI scans prior to and after the intense 100-hour preparation period. The scans revealed that the cramming sessions helped alter the brain structure of the 23 prep course participants, as they clearly illustrated a stronger connection between the brains’ frontal lobes, as well as between the parietal and frontal lobes. This indicates that while reasoning skills are generally considered to be an activity performed by the left side of the brain, with proper time and training, the brain’s right side will be forced into action and reasoning skills will improve as the brain structure changes.

As a result, students who put off studying until the last minute now have scientific evidence to suggest that it’s never too late to develop the reasoning skills necessary to succeed, as long as they set aside adequate quality time for intense cramming sessions. College just became a little more enjoyable.

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