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Get Smart: Georgetown Neuroscientists Release Free App to Improve Cognition

A team of Georgetown neuroscientists has released an app to help users improve their deductive reasoning skills.

“The Mental Models Training App requires users to complete increasingly difficult reasoning problems while using an external mental modeling tool,” explained app’s co-designer Robert Cortes (C’18, G’23). 

The app relies on the Mental Model Theory (MMT) of cognition, which posits that humans spatialize information to solve problems. The brain contains visuospatial resources that evolved to help humanity’s primate ancestors navigate complex environments. As our environments changed so did our application of these systems. Instead of evolving to add more structures in the brain, humans built higher-level reasoning on top of the existing visuospatial functionality. 

“Despite growing momentum behind MMT within neuroscience, there has been no empirical testing improving an individual’s deductive reasoning skill by first improving their mental modeling ability,” Cortes explained. “In the testing we’ve conducted so far, our results indicate the app leads to improvements in adults’ verbal deductive reasoning performance, both during and after the training intervention.”

In addition to Cortes, the app was co-designed by Adam Weinberger, a postdoctoral scientist in the Lab for Relational Cognition

“We have seen some encouraging results of applying mental model theory in educational settings recently, and we’re excited to make this tool available to anyone who wants to use it to develop some of the cognitive resources that appear to support reasoning,” said co-designer Adam Green, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology

The Mental Models Training App is free and available to download now on the Apple App Store.

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