Brain training games don't train your brain

21 April 2010

brain_jarI tried brain-training once. It involved cracking open people's skulls and then whipping their mind-blubber to see if it would jump through a flaming hoop. My experience told me one thing... and it's the same conclusion that Adam Rutherford has arrived at... brain training doesn't work.

One of the biggest money-spinners of the last few years has been the brain-training game. These games have caught people's imaginations like sudokus did years ago. Basically, people's need for faux self-improvement knows no bounds. That's why The Little Book of Calm sold a tonne of copies. Essentially, people are idiots.

Brain-training games are more desirable because its software, and software is made by science-type people who surely wouldn't spin a yarn to make a buck. Would they? This flies in the face of the complete lack of evidence of whether brain training actually improves your cognitive ability.

Research, also done by science-types who you may wish to ignore, shows that more than 11,000 volunteers were split into groups (one playing brain-training exercises, a second doing general cognitive tests and a third who just farted about online for a bit) for six weeks, completing memory tests and the like.

The conclusion was that brain-training games will improve your performance on brain-training games. As all three groups showed improvements, it shows that you might as well muck about on the internet than faffing around with a Nintendo D:S.

Lead researcher Adrian Owen says: "You're not going to get better at playing the trumpet by practising the violin."

So there you have it. Brain-training is a massive, dirty con... unless of course, you bought a game because you thought it was fun. Which is fine and makes this news pointless.


  • yogir n.
    WTF Is Dis Real
  • Mr G.
    A perfect justification for farting about online - "But, boss! It's as good as brain training..."
  • JonnySpandex
    Lol sorry I only play it for fun!!! And to beat my girlfriend! No physically you understand, just at the game!
  • Junkyard
    “You’re not going to get better at playing the trumpet by practising the violin.” Of course you are. What a ridiculous statement.
  • Krusty C.
    I approve of this article.
  • bob
    To yogir nurjet stop writing "WTF Is Dis Real" you cock sucking cunt faced twat!
  • bob
    WTF Is Dis Real
  • Mr D.
    You don't get better at having a seizure by blowing your own trumpet with elbow grease.
  • Gunn
    What do they mean by brain training, training to do what? Surely when you repeat any task you get better at it. I thought the case was that it was to perhaps help you stave off the early effects of alzheimer's.
  • Ian H.
    I need to train my brain.
  • JP
    Junkyard is spot on - and I think it's worrying that a "lead researcher" would make such an obviously nonsense comment.
  • Mr G.
    @Junkyard, @JP: I agree, it is a ridiculous statement. I practiced the violin at school for a number of years during which I also became proficient at playing two other instruments, swimming, smoking, algebra, French and masturbation. Coincidence? There are no coincidences.
  • Liz E.
    I have a problem with the conclusion this programme reached. Firstly it was based upon only one study. Secondly their results did actually show a slight increase in cognitive ability for those playing the brain training games over the six week period in comparison to the control group. It wasn't clear if it was a real increase, or normal statistical variation, however the conclusion that 'brain training does categorically NOT improve cogitive ability' was completely unfounded! At the very least this study was inconclusive, and suggested that further trials, probably with longer trial periods, such that any genuine improvement would be more marked and not be hidden in statistical noise. Come on people this is BAD SCIENCE!!!!
  • Jen
    The slight increase in the benchmarking could be explained by the fact it was the second time participants were taking those tests. During the first benchmarking session, the tests were totally novel (it took a few seconds to get the hang of them), then during the second session, the participants had a better idea of what they were doing, and thus could focus better. Overall, it's a valuable study. It was conducted by good researchers (King's College London, the Medical Research Council and others), and it was conducted with a control group and a very large sample of participants. This is more than can be said for any other studies on this subject. Even Nintendo had to agree that they don't make any claims that brain training actually improves brain power. The study was over 12 months I think, so I do not know why they only released data for the first six weeks ... maybe there was a huge drop out rate.
  • Brain
    Neuro workouts is definitely imperative but if you're a starter, I would advise sticking to the fundamentals first: particularly consuming a wholesome diet plan and literally exercising. These quick changes are the basis that enables neuro training to generate benefits. Doing mind workouts without first working on these things is like strength training without utilizing protein.

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