Brain-training games have no effect, claims new study

by L&D05 Oct 2016
A new study has suggested that brain-training programs and games do not provide the benefits their makers claim they do, potentially meaning that their popularity will slow down in the future.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest and entitled ‘Do “brain training” programs work?’ came to the conclusion that brain-training games such as those offered by Luminosity and LearningRx, do not produce the advertised effects for the user. These include boosting intelligence and even reducing the effects of ageing.
The new research involved a comprehensive examination of existing literature, looking at more than 130 studies that are cited by the makers of brain-training programs. The academics carefully studied evidence, evaluating factors and control groups and found that the research did not support the claims of companies that create the games.
The study concluded by saying, “Based on our extensive review of the literature cited by brain-training companies in support of their claims, coupled with our review of related brain-training literatures that are not currently associated with a company or product, there does not yet appear to be sufficient evidence to justify the claim that brain training is an effective tool for enhancing real-world cognition.”
The study, led by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign psychology professor Daniel Simons, comes two years after a consensus statement published by more than 70 scientists claimed that brain games “do not provide a scientifically grounded way to improve cognitive functioning or to stave off cognitive decline”.

A group of 133 scientists responded to this by pointing to examples of scientific literature that does suggest there are benefits to brain-training devices.
It was these conflicting statements that led to the new study. Speaking with NPR, Simons said, "It would be really nice if you could play some games and have it radically change your cognitive abilities. But the studies don't show that on objectively measured real-world outcomes."