Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Lumosity Glossary: Logical Reasoning

At Lumosity, our products draw inspiration from neuroscience and psychology, and we have a team of in-house scientists who constantly evaluate research in these areas.  But what do we mean when we tell you a game challenges “working memory”? And what’s the difference between “selective attention” and “divided attention”? Our new blog feature, Lumosity Glossary, is here to explain. First up: logical reasoning, the cognitive skill challenged in our newest game, Fuse Clues.

 Logical reasoning noun

/ˈläjək(ə)l/ ˈrēz(ə)niNG/

 The ability to combine multiple cognitive processes to recognize patterns, draw conclusions, and make decisions.

Logical reasoning is a sub-skill in our larger Problem Solving games category, and a simple way of describing it is the ability to analyze information to solve a problem. There are several types of logical reasoning, including deductive and inductive. Think of deductive as a “top-down” approach, where you start with a rule or pattern, which you then apply to a situation to solve a problem correctly. Our game, Organic Order, relies on deductive reasoning, tasking you with planting different seeds in a specific sequence, dictated by conditions. Inductive reasoning is the “bottom-up” approach, where examples allow you to hypothesize the general rule governing the situation. New game Fuse Clues requires inductive reasoning — here, you figure out the governing numerical sequence based on the different numbers available.  

Deductive reasoning

Classic deductive reasoning tasks include the “Logic Games” questions on the Law School Admissions Test (or LSAT). In these games, test-takers are given a series of rules, from which they must determine how to sequence or group a set of items. When looking to build new Problem Solving games, our team found inspiration in these deductive reasoning tasks, leading to the development of Organic Order (read more about how we created the game here)

One study that looked at the effects of LSAT practice on the brain is “Intensive Reasoning Training Alters Patterns of Brain Connectivity at Rest,” published in The Journal of Neuroscience in 2013. The study used fMRI to measure brain connectivity before and after participants completed an intensive three-month LSAT prep course — as the study authors write, this “standardized test places strong demands on reasoning.” They explain, “Broadly, we sought to test the hypothesis that engaging in novel, complex cognitive tasks would strengthen connectivity within the [brain’s] reasoning network at rest,” and they did find evidence to suggest a correlation, but the gains observed were not permanent. Nonetheless, the authors write, “Demonstrating neural plasticity in the network that supports reasoning—a skill that is central to theories of intelligence (Gray and Thompson, 2004)—is particularly significant because it runs counter to the widespread assumption that intelligence is a fixed ability,” and they conclude that, “to maintain a high level of reasoning ability, we hypothesize, it is important to regularly tax the underlying brain circuitry.”

It is very important to note that the study evaluated a small number of students who were enrolled in a 70+ hour LSAT training course — not short, computerized games like Organic Order — and more research needs to be done before reaching definitive conclusions about the effects of LSAT practice on the brain, computerized or not.  Nevertheless, we were excited to model the kinds of logical challenges in the LSAT into the fun and challenging new game Organic Order.

Inductive reasoning

In “A cognitive analysis of number-series problems: Sources of individual differences in performance,” the study authors note, “inductive reasoning is...generally considered to be an integral component of many cognitive abilities.” The study used a classic neuropsychology task, “Number Series,” to measure inductive reasoning skills in participants. The Number Series task was first published in Cognitive Abilities Test in 1971, and it asks participants to supply the next number in a given sequence. Our team modified this task to develop Fuse Clues: Research Associate Shelby explains, “For instance, in Fuse Clues, the gaps in the sequence aren’t always at the end, and we also provide options for which numbers to complete the sequence with rather than leaving it open ended.”

Ready to try your hand at logical reasoning?

For a deductive reasoning challenge, play Organic Order. More interested in inductive reasoning? Fuse Clues launched last month on web and mobile.

Further reading

Intensive Reasoning Training Alters Patterns of Brain Connectivity at Rest (Mackey et al. 2013)

Cognitive Abilities Test (Thorndike & Hagen, 1971)

A cognitive analysis of number-series problems: Sources of individual differences in performance (LeFavre & Bisanz, 1986)

Analyzing aptitudes for learning: Inductive reasoning (Pellegrina & Glaser, 1984)

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NEW Game: Fuse Clues