(Article) Doubts about brain-training games

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:53 am    Post subject: (Article) Doubts about brain-training games Reply with quote

Has anyone tried the brain-training games being offered on some Websites? I tried a few and had my doubts about how well they would work. It seems that some experts have had their doubts too:

Computerized Brain Training Fails a Test

The early news is not encouraging for makers of computerized brain-training games.

To keep the mind sharp as we age, we should "exercise" it regularly, according to a large body of research that has accumulated in recent decades. Just as with preserving muscle strength, the mantra is "use it or lose it." In fact, a growing number of computerized brain-training games are sold to people who seek to preserve their intellect.

A British team recruited 11,340 viewers of a popular BBC science program to engage in an online brain-training experiment during a 6-week period. Participants (age range, 1860) underwent a broad set of cognitive tests at baseline and were allocated randomly to three online-exercise groups: The first focused on reasoning, planning, and problem-solving tasks; the second focused on broader tasks of memory, attention, mathematics, and other skills; and the third (control) searched online for answers to obscure questions. After 6 weeks, groups one and two definitively improved their performance on their specifically assigned brain-training games, but they showed no improvement (compared with the control group) when they repeated the more general cognitive testing that had been done at baseline.


This study does not debunk all claims that regular computerized brain exercises preserve or strengthen overall mental performance: It involved just a few exercises and was conducted for just 6 weeks. Yet, it does throw a dash of cold water on commercial programs that promise cognitive benefits.

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

Published in Journal Watch General Medicine April 29, 2010


Owen AM et al. Putting brain training to the test. Nature 2010 Apr 20

My attitude about them has been to try them out if/when I had time and energy but never to pay real money for them....

Also, I haven't seen one yet that really appealed to me. I wouldn't have wanted to keep playing any of them. Most were too high-paced for me, and many seemed downright boring.
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