Left Wing or Right Wing: What Cognitive Qualities to Look for in a Policymaker?

- High demanding jobs need scores above 50% in executive functions. - Does the brain play an important part in being a well-rounded policymaker? - What are the most important skills to look for in a candidate?

Cognitive skills shape our daily lives. People need them to perform basic tasks to complex ones that require more brain energy. High demanding jobs may involve more cognitive skills because they tend to carry more responsibility, even more, when your decisions might affect a whole society. With the midterm elections coming up voters are wondering if it is absolutely necessary for our policymakers to have exceptional brain functions and cognitive skills?

CogniFit data suggests that people in highly demanding jobs such as magistrates, CEOs and executives tend to obtain scores on the general cognitive test above 50% in executive functions. A policymakers job can be quite complex, from reviewing existing laws, developing and implementing new policies or strategies in different areas (economic, social, etc.). Being such a high demanding job, it requires excellent cognitive skills to be able to face and create solutions to societal problems.

A leader in cognitive tests and training, CogniFit, knows the importance of cognitive skills such as planning, inhibition, and decision making in day to day activities. In fact, these functions are modulated by neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This means the brain can adapt and train these abilities to optimize their performance.

A study by Wai (2012) from Duke University wanted to see if the American elite (Fortune 500 CEOs, federal judges, billionaires, Senators, and members of the House of Representatives) was drawn from the cognitive elite.

He discovered “both those who are elected by Americans and those who are selected through other means to enter positions that greatly influence American society are not ordinary when it comes to cognitive ability and education. These elite individuals are drawn largely from the intellectually talented, with many of them in the top 1% of education and ability.”

The most important cognitive skills people should look for in a candidate in these midterm elections are planning, inhibition, updating, working memory, shifting, problem-solving and decision making. CogniFit neuropsychologist MSc. Egea explains that the purpose of Congress representatives and politicians is, among other things, to manage all possible variables that guarantee the proper functioning of society. In our brain, it is precisely the executive functions that supervise and are responsible for different domains. Executive functions are closely related to the prefrontal lobe of the brain which is essential for lawmaking, directing and managing congress to an entire country!

Policymakers need planning in order to think about the future, most of their work entails strategizing about future issues, analyzing previous information and approving new policies.

Not all 435 congress members will think alike; therefore it’s imperative for politicians and policymakers to be diplomatic. For this to be achieved they need inhibition. In those same lines, to draft different policies, making sure constituents’ concerns are taken into account, congress representatives need to be able to carry out a plan of action. This ability is known as updating.

Remembering what to say during a debate and the important points in an argument is part of our working memory, and it is crucial for congressional representatives to have this cognitive skill in shipshape.

By now, everyone is aware that change is inevitable. However, it is important to learn to accept it and be able to adopt thoughts and behaviors. This executive function is called shifting, and lawmakers constantly need this to debate ideas, change other people’s minds and even their own.

As constituents elect their representatives, they aim for decisive policymakers. Decision making is an imperative skill when choosing who to vote for in these midterm elections. The ideal candidate must have the ability to efficiently and thoughtfully choose the best option among different alternatives. The same way they need to know how to solve problems when faced with an issue.

Cognitive skills are not only essential for real life, but optimal executive functions are crucial for policymakers. CogniFit has proven that cognitive skills can show improvement after training in healthy adults. Therefore, be sure to keep a lookout for these cognitive skills in policymakers.

For further inquiries and media interviews, please contact Thomas Mann at media@cognifit.com.

About CogniFit

CogniFit is a global leader in developing online programs to assess and train core cognitive areas such as attention, memory, coordination, perception, and reasoning. As a digital health company, CogniFit specializes in scientifically validated cognitive tests and brain training programs, all available online at www.cognifit.com.

CogniFit's patented technology has been designed by an international team of scientists, neurologists, and psychologists who investigate and combine the latest discoveries on the brain with advanced adaptive algorithms and big data analytics. For nearly 20 years, CogniFit has been developing personalized brain fitness programs with leading scientific institutions and published its results in several peer-reviewed publications.

As a major vendor in the cognitive assessment and training market, CogniFit offers its programs to individuals and companies in various verticals, such as healthcare, education, research, health and wellness, driving and human resources. Its brain fitness solutions are available in 19 languages.

Source: CogniFit