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Do brain training games boost brain power?

21st April 2010

A scientific study launched by the BBC has suggested that brain training games do not improve overall brain power.

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The research followed 11,430 people over six weeks to assess the impact of playing brain training computer games.

Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers noted that players got better at the games but these gains were not converted into an improvement in general reasoning, memory, planning or visuospatial abilities.

Neuroscientist Dr Adrian Owen from 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."

Gamemaker Nintendo said its Dr Kawashima brain training games did not claim to be scientifically proven to improve cognitive function and that they were intended as "fun challenges incorporating simple arithmetic, memorisation and reading".

The study focused on volunteers who were viewers of the BBC One science programme Bang Goes The Theory and games tested were designed by scientists from the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer's Society.

The Alzheimer's Society said that the evidence could change the way experts looked at brain training games.

To test the games, participants were asked to do brain training "workouts" for at least 10 minutes a day, three times a week for a minimum of six weeks. But tests conducted before and after the training showed none of the interventions boosted people’s ability to do everyday thinking tasks.

 

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