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Re: Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
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Exactly.. though I had marked option D but then it's not the decisions that are optimal(as stated by the answer choice). It's the number of neurons that should be optimal(as stated in the stimulus). Nothing is mentioned about the source though

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Re: Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
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I don't think there is a logical reason to eliminate D, would love to hear expert's view, please don't start with the pre-thinking crap, other than that all ears.
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Re: Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
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Hi could you please clarify why A is correct?

This is conclusion passage, which means the correct option should be broad enough to include all the elements of the passage, but choice A here only talks about the scenario when the number of neurons are in excess.
This is the only reason why I eliminated this option.
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Re: Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
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ekta26 wrote:
Hi could you please clarify why A is correct?

This is conclusion passage, which means the correct option should be broad enough to include all the elements of the passage, but choice A here only talks about the scenario when the number of neurons are in excess.
This is the only reason why I eliminated this option.


Hi Ekta

It is not necessary for a conclusion to include all the premises that are stated. Several times, there may be premises which are thrown in just to create confusion in the minds of the test takers, or may have nothing to do with the final conclusion. Do not go in with such preconceived notions.

For an inference/conclusion to hold, the only condition that must be satisfied is that it must be 100% supported by the information given in the passage (not necessarily every bit of information in the passage). Absence of negative confirmation ("may be true" scenario) is insufficient to call something an inference/conclusion - we must get an unambiguous affirmative confirmation. Once that is available, a statement can be considered a valid inference/conclusion.

In this passage, option (A) is fully supported by the passage and hence is the correct answer. Hope this helps.
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Re: Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
AndrewN, would love to hear your take on this question. Despite excellent explanations above, I am still not able to understand why answer D is wrong.
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Re: Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
Totally agreeing wth you here, Ian, thanks!!
IanStewart wrote:
The question is so careless with language, there's no way to pick a good answer. What is the "optimal decision" described in answer A? The question stem doesn't talk about "optimal decisions" anywhere - it only talks about an "optimal" "number of neurons". The stem talks about "properly made" decisions, but we have no way to know if that means the same thing as "optimal". Those aren't even close to being synonymous. It's very possible (at least based on the information provided) that the brain makes "optimal decisions" precisely when the brain thinks "tangentially".

There are so many issues with wording here that there's no reason to pay attention to the question. Where is it from?
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Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
AndrewN wrote:
kntombat wrote:
AndrewN, would love to hear your take on this question. Despite excellent explanations above, I am still not able to understand why answer D is wrong.

All right, kntombat, I will bite. You know I do not like to shy away from taking a closer look at a question, even if that question may not be from a reliable source or may be of questionable quality. Remember, the goal when taking on any Verbal question is not to choose the only answer that can be justified, but to select the best answer of the five presented. This question asks us to draw our own conclusion based on the information presented in the passage. So, just what is that information?

homersimpsons wrote:
Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining through pathways during any decision-making process. The number of neurons that join must be optimal for any decision to be properly made. If more neurons than required join, then the mind may start thinking in tangential direction. If fewer neurons than needed join, then the decision-making process may not get done properly.


Sentence one provides background information on the neuronal underpinnings of any decision-making process.

Sentence two outlines a balance that must be struck among the number of neurons that group together—an optimal number—for any decision to be properly made.

Sentence three presents a problem with neuron saturation: the mind may wander.

Sentence four presents the counterpart to the previous sentence, indicating that too few neurons clustering may hinder the proper decision-making process.

There are a lot of absolutes in the passage—any, must be optimal, required, needed—and yet there are also some instances of softer language in may. Such a mixture of language, with judgmental words such as properly peppered in, may leave the passage more open to interpretation, and following what I like to call the linear logic of the passage may prove more challenging. Anyway, how about we see what the answer choices have in store?

homersimpsons wrote:
(A) It is highly unlikely that the brain will be able to make an optimal decision once it starts thinking tangentially due to an excess of neurons involved.

On first pass, this one meets a yellow-light standard. There are a few questionable elements to sort out later, but nothing leaps out at me as being egregious. The passage discusses neuronal grouping in order for a decision, any decision, to be made. It seems overreaching, perhaps, to make a judgment call as to the quality of a decision—optimal does appear in the passage, but in the context of how the neurons must group together for, again, any decision to be properly made. Also, why can we conclude that it is highly unlikely that the brain will be capable of making an optimal decision once it has started down a tangential path? If you recall, line three is one that uses cautious language: the mind may start to wander is not the same as saying that the mind will start to wander. This answer choice looks okay for now, but I want to keep searching.

homersimpsons wrote:
(B) Since the total number of neurons in the brain start to decline after 30 years of age, the decision-making capability of an individual also declines.

Okay, this one is much easier to assess. There is no evidence in the passage whatsoever to support such mathematical certainty. For all we know, the optimal number of neurons that come together for a proper decision to be made is far lower than the total number of neurons available, and even an aging brain could muster up enough neurons for the decision-making process. Red light.

homersimpsons wrote:
(C) Poor decisions are caused either by an excess of neurons or an inadequacy of the same.

Comparing the language of (A) and (C), you can appreciate why I would disfavor this answer choice. We are again getting into interpretive territory in assessing the quality of decisions, but whereas (A) softens the conclusion with unlikely, this option tells us with certainty that poor decisions are caused by something or another, and the passage never asserts that an excess or inadequacy of neurons will cause poor decisions. The last two lines of the passage clearly adopt a may framework instead, making this answer choice easier than (A) to argue against. Red light.

homersimpsons wrote:
(D) Decisions in which an adequate number of neurons are involved are usually optimal.

We seem not be able to escape this quality-of-decision conclusion. The beginning of the answer looks somewhat promising, but, as we saw in (C), the definitive are gives me cause for concern here. Moreover, the passage provides no insight into the frequency with which the optimal alignment or grouping of neurons may lead to proper decisions, just that such an optimal arrangement must be reached. Finally, we are dealing with the same optimal we saw in (A). In sum, all three words at the end of this answer choice are debatable, while highly in (A) is the only unmatched questionable element. We could yellow-light this on first pass, although I still favor the earlier answer.

homersimpsons wrote:
(E) It's better to have more neurons than to have fewer.

Like (B), this provides an easy elimination. There is no evidence in the passage that having too many or too few neurons in the decision-making process is any better or worse than the other. All we can say is that either condition is suboptimal, compared to having just the right number of neurons. Red light.

Between (A) and (D), the former has a slight edge, in my mind, for its use of cautious language. I am guessing that whoever created the question was going for something along such lines, with the intention of pointing out that assertive language is more readily debated or disproved. I just think that this same person conflated an optimal number of neurons (to make any decision) with an optimal number of neurons to make an optimal decision. In short, I would say right idea, wrong execution. I am certain the question would not appear as is on the GMAT™, but it provides a learning opportunity, nonetheless. (I spent a little under a minute and a half before I settled on (A) over (D), and I feel as though the time was not wasted, even if I am glad I did not invest much more of it.)

I hope that helps. You wanted my input, so there you have it. Thank you for thinking to ask me about the question.

- Andrew


Hi AndrewN,

In option A, isnt it possible that though the brain started thinking tangentially in the beginning, it did come to track and led to a proper (or optimal in this context though I think there is a difference between a decision taken properly and an optimal decision) decision? Arent we wrongly assuming in all options that once the brain starts thinking tangentially or fewer neurons join, the optimal connection cannot be made later in the decision-making process and the correct decision cannot be taken?

Looking forward to your POV.
TIA!
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Re: Neurons in the brain form cohesive decision groups by joining thro [#permalink]
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RenB wrote:
Hi AndrewN,

In option A, isnt it possible that though the brain started thinking tangentially in the beginning, it did come to track and led to a proper (or optimal in this context though I think there is a difference between a decision taken properly and an optimal decision) decision? Arent we wrongly assuming in all options that once the brain starts thinking tangentially or fewer neurons join, the optimal connection cannot be made later in the decision-making process and the correct decision cannot be taken?

Looking forward to your POV.
TIA!

Hello, RenB. Yes, we do have to assume that once tangential thinking occurs, there is no coming back to make an optimal decision in that moment. CR passages are written with straight-arrow logic in mind, and in this passage, there is either proper decision-making or tangential thinking. If we are to suppose that someone can toggle back and forth between the two modes of thinking, then there is no way to reasonably assess the answer choices. That said, I agree with IanStewart above that the question takes liberties that an official question would not. It probably does not deserve too much airtime.

Good luck with your studies.

- Andrew
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