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April 21, 2010

Brain games don’t make you smarter

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by Darren Allan

Brain training games have been a massively successful phenomenon over the past few years.

As a result, a whole raft of brain trainers have jumped on the bandwagon, the most famous being Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training on the Nintendo DS.

This consists of a number of maths, memory and Sudoku tests which are supposed to sharpen your mental acuity if practised on a regular basis. As the phrase goes, when it comes to brain cells, use them or lose them.

The other way of losing them, is by boozing them. Though booze trainer has yet to hit the market (never mind brain age; “Your liver age is: 108”).

Anyhow, the latest scientific research into whether or not these sort of brain training exercises actually work indicates that they don’t.

A study commissioned by the BBC examined over 11,000 people, using brain trainers over a six week period.

The results indicated that while people became better at the games over time, they didn’t perform any better than control groups (who didn’t use brain training games) when it came to a range of everyday thinking exercises.

Although it’s far from a conclusive piece of research, as even Adrian Owen, the scientist who led the study admits.

Owen told Nature journal that his findings didn’t necessarily mean that brain training in youngsters or the elderly is a complete waste of time. But the evidence for it “is not strong”, he said.

The research is also missing part of the point of brain trainers, which is simply that they’re good fun to play, get better at and beat. Just like any other game.

Story link: Brain games don’t make you smarter


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1 Comment »
  1. and people really thought that this game would make you ‘smarter’?

    Comment by james — April 21, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

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