Before you consider purchasing any brain training software, consider first whether it will work or not. In a six-week study, funded by the BBC, experts found people who exercised with well known brain training programs to improve their cognitive skills didn’t get any smarter.
Researchers recruited participants from viewers of the BBC’s science show “Bang Goes the Theory”. The largest ever brain training study, recruited 11,430 people, aged 18 to 60. They were asked to play online brain games designed by the researchers to improve their memory, reasoning and other skills for at least 10 minutes a day, three times a week. These brain games are typical of the types of games offered by companies such as Nintendo and Lumosity.
Results showed clearly that while players got progressively better at the games, the gains did not transfer to general intelligence, the journal Nature reports.
Players gained nothing in terms of general reasoning, memory, planning or visuospatial abilities, experts found. Tests before and after the training showed none of the interventions boosted people’s ability to do everyday thinking tasks, although they did get better at playing the individual games and the specific cognitive tasks these involved.
Dr Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at the Medical Research Council, said:
The results are clear. “Statistically, there are no significant differences between the improvements seen in participants who played our brain training games, and those who just went on the internet for the same length of time.
Leading game maker Nintendo said their Dr Kawashima ‘Brain Age’ brain training games did not claim to be scientifically proven to improve cognitive function. In a statement Nintendo stated:
In this way it is like a workout for the brain and the challenges in the game can help stimulate the player’s brain.