Brain training company under fire

by Brett Henebery16 Aug 2017
A US investigative unit overseen by the country’s Better Business Bureau is demanding that a brain training company once linked to US Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, remove controversial claims that appear on its website.

DeVos served on the board of Neurocore LLC until January 2017, when her involvement raised questions among some US Senators about potential conflicts of interest.
The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that the company remove claims on its website that it can treat illnesses such as ADHD, autism and stress without the use of medication.
The company advocates an approach using ‘neurofeedback’, which involves an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine hooked up to a screen or set of speakers, which changes a sound or image in response to the brain’s electrical activity.
In theory, that real-time feedback could teach people how to control their brain waves and potentially improve conditions that range from ADHD to anxiety. However, the research remains inconclusive.
Neurocore LLC’s website includes a page containing client testimonials, many of which claim that the program reduced or eliminated the need for medication and provided a solution or even a cure for a range of challenging conditions.
However, following its review of the evidence in the record, the NAD concluded that the advertiser’s evidence was insufficiently reliable to substantiate the strong health-related advertising claims.
The NAD pointed out that its recommendation is not a finding of legal wrongdoing and that it is ultimately up to Neurocore to remove or modify its claims.
Nonetheless, Neurocore says it will now appeal the NAD’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board.
Neurocore CEO, Mark Murrison, told IbTimes that the company was proud of what it does and stands behind the outcomes it delivers to improve people’s lives.

“From the beginning, we fully and voluntarily cooperated with the NAD to provide extensive support for the statements we make,” Murrison said.
“Our work has improved the lives of thousands of people who seek help for anxiety, depression, ADHD and other mental or behavioural conditions.”
Murrison added that the public has “a right to receive accurate and truthful information about the alternatives to chemical treatments for these conditions and we have provided it.”
In July, a landmark study examining brain-training games found that they have no more effect on healthy brains than standard video games.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, involved 128 young adults who were tested for mental performance after playing either Luminosity brain-training games or regular video games for 10 weeks.

According to the results, there was no evidence that the specialised brain-training games led to any improvements in decision-making, sustained attention or memory.

However, more recent research claims that using a ‘cross-training’ regimen may help improve a learner’s ability to develop skills versus solo cognitive training.

The study, published by Nature Research, calls ‘multimodal training’, a process that has been shown to “significantly enhance” learning among the 318 participating volunteers.
The authors of the report said the potential impact of brain training methods for enhancing human cognition in healthy and clinical populations has motivated increasing public interest and scientific scrutiny.

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