Brain training games may be a waste of time: Scientists say that there is 'little evidence of real-world benefits'

  • There are numerous games designed to improve memory and attention
  • But a new study shows that these claims are not backed by science
  • Researchers concluded that there is no compelling evidence that the games help people in their lives

Trendy brain training computer games may be a waste of time and money, scientists have revealed.

They said that while people may get better at the exercise they practise, there is little or no evidence this helps them in their day to day lives.

Numerous companies make packages of games, puzzles and exercises that are designed to improve memory, boost attention span or simply keep the mind sharp into old age.

Brain training computer games may be a waste of time and money, scientists said last night. They said that while people may get better at the exercise they practise, there is little or no evidence this helps them in their day to day lives (stock image)

Brain training computer games may be a waste of time and money, scientists said last night. They said that while people may get better at the exercise they practise, there is little or no evidence this helps them in their day to day lives (stock image)

IMPACT OF BRAIN TRAINING

Researchers examined more than 130 studies into brain training.

They found several flaws in the studies.

They were also concerned that work done on special groups, such as schizophrenics or people with dementia, was used to support claims that the games would help the general population.

Sometimes, the results of a single study were reported in many different journals.

Daniel Simons, of the University of Illinois, who led the analysis, said: 'That gives the misleading impression that there is more evidence than actually exists, and it makes it hard to evaluate whether the study provided any evidence at all.'

Professor Simons concluded that, overall, there is no compelling evidence that the games help people in their lives.

Nintendo's brain training games have been endorsed by celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters.

However, a comprehensive review has concluded that the claims made by the companies are not backed by science.

The UK and US researchers examined more than 130 studies into brain training.

They found numerous flaws in the studies. 

They were also concerned that work done on special groups, such as schizophrenics or people with dementia, was used to support claims that the games would help the general population.

Sometimes, the results of a single study were reported in many different journals.

Daniel Simons, of the University of Illinois, who led the analysis, said: 'That gives the misleading impression that there is more evidence than actually exists, and it makes it hard to evaluate whether the study provided any evidence at all.'

Professor Simons concluded that, overall, there is no compelling evidence that the games help people in their lives.

So while someone might become adept at completing particular memory tests or doing certain types of sums on line, this doesn't mean they become better at remembering their shopping list or splitting a restaurant bill.

He said: 'The idea behind 'brain training' is that if you practice a task that taps a core component of cognitive ability, like memory, the training will improve your ability to perform other tasks that also rely on memory, not just in the lab, but also in the world.

Nintendo's brain training games have been endorsed by celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters. However, a comprehensive review has concluded that the claims made by the companies are not backed by science

Nintendo's brain training games have been endorsed by celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters. However, a comprehensive review has concluded that the claims made by the companies are not backed by science

'But there is little evidence to date of real-world benefits from brain training.'

An accompanying article in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest lists some tried and tested methods of boosting brainpower.

These include memory aids such as using images and rhymes to remember facts and taking breaks when studying, rather than cramming everything into one session. 

'SHOOT-EM-UPS' CAN BOOST BRAIN FUNCTION 

Research suggests that certain games – particularity action games – can boost brain function.

Some were even found to be of greater benefit than some brain-training exercises, which were specifically designed to boost a person's cognitive abilities.

The review was carried out by Dr Shawn Green, assistant professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr Aaron Seitz, of University of California Riverside.

The findings suggest that action video games in particular - games that feature quick moving targets, include large amounts of clutter, and that require the user to make rapid, accurate decisions - have particularly positive cognitive impacts.

They explained that action video games have been linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions including low-level vision through high-level cognitive abilities.

 

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