Word games messing with my head

Every morning before I get out of bed, I take a little time to catch up on some Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends – games I’m thoroughly addicted to since my sister introduced them to me. (Yes, this means I sleep with my cell phone somewhere close at hand… Actually, I keep it in my hand, usually under my pillow.) Somehow, I believe these early morning word games are good for me – developmentally, perhaps in a sense that I can increase my vocabulary with practice with these games and give my brain a little exercise. The plasticity of the brain allows further development in areas like language reasoning and practical vocabulary even in adults. I’m pretty invested in my brain, so I like to do these little games when I’m bored.

((If you’re interested in games like this, you can also try Word Bubbles on Lumosity. It’s one of their free games, and it’s really fun!))

This idea of language development and games got me thinking on another psychological exercise (in the same vein as the reaction time test and the dual n back exercise) that I learned about in a psychology course in college (or maybe I saw it on Nova). This is the Stroop test, which examines the brain’s response time to different kinds of information in relation to each other. The test itself involves 4 different exercises, but the most revealing exercise is the color text test.

To take the test, it works best to have someone with you, who can help you recognize mistakes when you make them. Look at the collection of words in the image below. First, read the words out loud (i.e. read the word pink as “pink”) as quickly as you can. Now, return to the start of the set of words in the image and now say the name of the color of the text out loud for each word (i.e. in the image below, read pink and say “white”) as quickly as you can. Between reading the image and the colors differently, which is easier? Which takes longer? During which reading do you make the most mistakes (either that you recognize or someone else points out to you)?

It’s another one of those tests I like to do over and over. I imagine if you need to wear glasses to read, this test gets easier in the second part if you take your glasses off. If you go to ojohaven.com (where the above image is originally from) you can get a word set, test it out, and then refresh the page to get a completely new arrangement of colors and words.

I think I’d like to work this test or something like it into my regular morning regimen, somewhere between coming up with different ways to include the letter “J” in a word on a scrabble board and reading my usual morning slew of science blog posts.

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