Does brain training actually work?

Posted on November 5, 2014

For a training program to be effective, it needs to increase people’s fluid intelligence. In other words, we must be able to transfer the specific training to our daily lives. Fluid intelligence refers to the ability to reason and to solve problems independently of previously acquired knowledge.

The rationale for brain training programs rests on observations that cognitive training is associated with decreased age-related cognitive decline.

A meta-analysis of 23 studies shows that improvements in working memory after cognitive training do not last in the long run, and the very specific skills acquired in memory training cannot be transferred to other cognitive skills.

Another 6-week online study by Owen and colleagues, involving over 11,000 participants, found improvements in all trained cognitive tasks. The effects, however, could not be transferred to untrained tasks, even when the tasks were closely related.

Taken together, brain training programs may help us become better at very specific tasks that are exercised by the games. However, experts are skeptical about the effectiveness of the programs on general cognitive functions, such as fluid intelligence.

It’s fine to play such brain training games for fun, but ‘if you’re doing it like a chore’ to postpone cognitive aging and dementia there are other, better established methods of keeping the brain sharp, such as exercising.

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Source material from Reflectd