One of the biggest challenges for American intelligence? The way the brain works.

What’s wrong with American intelligence?

That question became tragically urgent at the end of last year, with the failed attempt to blow up Northwest Flight 253, and then the deadly suicide bombing that killed seven CIA officers in eastern Afghanistan.

These events put intelligence at the top of the national agenda and have been followed, predictably, by an outcry that our intelligence system needs to be overhauled.

Leaders and critics, from the president on down, are calling for a host of solutions: more people on no-fly lists, tighter control of visas, more thorough airport screening, better tracking of suspects. In sum, the thinking goes, we need to gather more information, then work harder to connect the dots.

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People who talk out loud to think through their maths problems are able to solve them faster and have more chance of getting the right answer, the research has found.

In a finding that flies in the face of the old-fashioned theory of studying in silence, classrooms should be full of the noise of students tackling their problems out loud.

The research, published in the Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, could even have an impact in the way mathematics is taught.

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