Newsweek | Buff Your Brain.

Brain training to sharpen memory. Aerobic exercise to preserve gray matter. Meditation to hone connections between reason and emotion.

It all sounds great, but there’s something that has long bothered us about the growing number of studies pinpointing ways to buff your brain: they don’t go far enough. Sure, exercises to improve memory are better for your brain than, say, watching reality TV, but the most you’re going to gain is more reliable access to knowledge already scattered around your cerebral cortex. If the information isn’t in there, no amount of brain training will tell you how the Federal Reserve system functions, why the Confederacy lost the Civil War, the significance of Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon, or why Word just crashed. Not to mention the kind of information that could significantly improve your day-to-day life: wouldn’t it be wonderful to understand and remember more of what you read and hear (what’s the catch with annuities again?), to learn—and retain—new skills to improve your job prospects (animated Power-Points!), and to connect bits of knowledge to, say, discern what makes your boss tick.