The brain of a coder isn’t the same as the brain of an individual with another profession. This is a conclusion that Carnegie Mellon University researchers and their colleagues from other academic institutions have reached. The results of the study were presented during the annual International Conference on Software Engineering.
Using MRI, researchers took a closer look at the brains of programmers. Research suggested that the lines between language and math learning were blurred. There’s long been an ongoing debate about whether programming activates the parts of the brain responsible for analytical thinking or for language learning. Research suggests that a little bit of both will happen.
While additional studies will be needed to get a better idea about how the human brain handles programming, one conclusion can be drawn already. Coding activates many parts of the brain and it helps develop an array of important skills. As a result, programming can be perceived as an adequate opportunity for boosting one’s brain power.
Does Programming Enhance Your Brain Power?
Questions about programming’s positive effect on cognitive development started getting formulated back in the 1980s. MIT math professor Seymour Papert wrote a key book on the topic titled Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas. In the book, Papert argued that coding provides very young individuals with learning opportunities that can’t be made available through other disciplines.
Programmers and researchers claim that the analytical and problem-solving skills acquired through coding can be applied to various disciplines and real-life issues. Programming changes the way in which we view the world and approach hardships. As a result, a conclusion about the cognitive enhancement stemming from programming can be drawn.
The positive effects aren’t limited solely to children and young individuals
Some describe coding as a form of brain exercise. Every type of brain exercise is ideal for preventing or slowing down age-related cognitive decline. Learning a new skill is seen as one of the best ways to maintain the youthfulness of the brain. According to University of Texas researchers, engaging in an activity or a mental challenge that a person has never done before can sharpen both focus and memory.
It’s a myth that people lose the capacity to learn with age. True, the acquisition of new skills is more challenging and time-consuming, but knowledge can still be accumulated. Thus, there’s no age limit to getting started with programming and the brain power boost will be experienced by just about everyone.
You Don’t Need to be a Genius to Code but You Can Become One!
One of the most destructive myths about programming that still circulates today is that coding is an activity solely for brilliant minds and geniuses. This isn’t the case. Many people will never even give coding a try because they believe they’re not smart enough to master it.
Coding seems quite intimidating when getting started but it doesn’t have to be. The reason for this misconception is simple. Coders work with programming languages. Programming languages are something that the vast majority doesn’t understand. Everything alien looks intimidating and challenging. This is how the most common misconception about coding has come into existence.
You don’t need to be a genius to get started with programming. When you do, however, you’ll certainly see an increase in your mental capacity and your problem-solving skills. Studies show that computer engineers and software developers, for example, aren’t objectively smarter than other professionals. The main difference is that they know how to analyze a problem and how to seek for a viable solution. This practical aspect of coding xilinx virtex 5 is the one that could potentially be perceived as a higher level of intelligence.
Basic understanding of algebra and critical thinking are the two prerequisites for getting started with programming. If you have them, chances are that you’re qualified enough to begin learning coding languages.
What Happens to the Brain When You Learn to Code?
So, what is it exactly that happens to your brain when you learn how to code? Edsger W. Dijkstra, an award-winning software engineer and system scientists, has said that the tools we use have a profound influence on our thinking.
A coding language is a powerful mental tool. There’s some evidence that the first coding language a person deals with will have a massive impact on their programming style and the manner in which they tackle problems. Thus, it’s obvious that coding “molds” the minds and trains an analytical way of thinking that wasn’t as profound before.
When you learn a new skill (in the case, coding) you will have new neurons and neural connections forming in the brain. Depending on the specific connections being formed, certain neural pathways will become stronger while others are going to be weakened.
This process is continuous and ongoing throughout life. Everything that we learn is initially a part of our short-term memory. With more training, practice and repetition, it is transferred to long-term “storage.” In addition, there is some evidence that learning new things helps for the accumulation of more myelin on nerve axons. Myelin, a mixture of proteins that forms an isolating coating, allows for signals to travel faster along the neurons. This is particularly important at a later age when mental processes are naturally slowed down.
The conclusion is simple, your brain needs exercise to remain healthy. Being bored for prolonged periods of time without learning new things can lead to cognitive loss, not to mention the fact that it could have an array of additional negative effects (like a higher risk of heart disease!).
Learning to code will change your life in more than one way. Obviously, you will benefit from much better professional opportunities than your peers who aren’t programmers. In addition, you will acquire critical mental skills that can be applied across an array of disciplines.
Not only will you feel more focused, acquiring a new skill that’s considered complex by the rest of the world will be incredibly empowering. You can challenge programming at any age, if you have the patience and the commitment. A higher level of self-confidence is an added bonus to the intelligence boost. You’ll feel good about yourself and about your skills, which will obviously change the way in which you see the world and your place in it.