Although the job market for lawyers has imploded and law school applications are accordingly down across the country, prepping for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) in and of itself could give your brain a makeover … in a good way.
Based on brain scans, University of California, Berkeley researchers found that studying/cramming for the LSAT, an important prerequisite for applying to law school, has a tangible affect on brain structure and could even add IQ points by “physically bolstering the connections between areas of the brain important for reasoning,” according to the Berkeley News Center.
The researchers reviewed brain scans of 24 students before and after 100 hours of intense LSAT preparation over a 90-day period versus a control group of non-LSAT students and found that “the trained students developed increased connectivity between the frontal lobes of the brain, and between frontal and parietal lobes.” In other words, LSAT study apparently strengthens the connection between the right and left brain.
The National Law Journal explains the LSAT brain study results in plain language:
“In essence, the LSAT takers showed stronger connections between the part of the brain tasked with deductive reasoning and the part that handles spatial cognition — the ability to tackle everyday tasks…Training in reasoning skills may even increase a person’s IQ score, the researchers theorized.”
It has been acknowledged that learning to play a musical instrument can change the brain’s anatomy, but this is evidently the first study that establishes “that intensive, real-life educational experience that trains reasoning also alters the brain pathways that support reasoning ability.”
The LSAT is a standardized half-day multiple-choice test like an SAT on steroids that contains two logical reasoning sections, one reading comprehension section, an analytical reasoning section (often referred to as “logic games”, which is the section that usually requires the most practice), and a so-called experimental section plus an essay.
Going to law school is generally a bad idea in this tanking economy, and the attorney employment situation for a variety of reasons is unlikely to get any better moving forward, so The Wall Street Journal puts the LSAT brain study into perspective:
“Law students — you’re facing a poor job market, higher tuition and increasing debt loads, but all that studying might just have made you smarter. So you’ve got that going for you.”
Published in the Frontiers of Neuroanatomy journal, the study concludes: “In summary, reasoning training altered multiple measures of white matter structure in young adults.”
Have you ever taken, or considered taking, the LSAT? Would these study findings make you somewhat interested in gearing up to take the exam for brain health even if you are lukewarm about law school?