Does Learning Card Tricks Make You Smarter Than Playing Solitaire?

Have you ever watched someone play solitaire? Have you ever played it yourself? At first, people playing this card game devote an extreme amount of mental intent, but as they play on, they move the cards quite quickly, anticipating what’s coming next, and being ready for any possible move. At some point they become so good at the game, they do it on autopilot, and they can carry on a conversation on the phone, or with a group of people talking around the coffee table. Even people who do this in the office when they should be working, are able to also complete their tasks, even if it is in a haphazardly manner.

When folks play solitaire how much of their mind is really active? Well it turns out that in the first 10 to 15 minutes, their mind is very active as reported by an fMRI brain scanner, but much like someone watching TV their attention span becomes slacking overtime. Those who have played solitaire under strict observation in research studies show they are also prone to make mistakes, get bored, or even cheat just so they can finish and quit. Some people play solitaire just to pass the time, similar to people who smoke cigarettes and become addicted to nicotine because it does affect their brain and their sense of time.

Did you know that people that practice card tricks and magic tricks also have similar attributes on a brain scanner? That’s interesting isn’t it? Why you think this is? Much of it has to do with the dexterity of their fingertips as they are playing with the cards. In a game of solitaire the same thing occurs when doing card tricks because you have to be more careful, and each hand movement must be precise. The brain scanner shows this, moments of extreme concentration, and then flat periods with not much of anything. Isn’t it interesting that the solitaire player goes through the same process?

Even more interesting is that as the card trick player commits that trick to memory, and as he or she does it over and over again, their brain lights up less, and less each time they do the same trick. Why is this? Could it be because they are committing these motions to memory? Just as a martial artist might do? Muscle memory if you will? It is an intriguing thought isn’t it, and yet when was the last time you thought about this while you are playing Solitaire? Please consider all this and think on it.