It’s time for us to delve into the heated debate of brain training. Is brain training real, or is it complete and utter crud? Let’s investigate.
You have to be pretty sceptical about whether brain training works, don’t you. I mean let’s be completely honest here, some brain training games are so simple that they involve clicking on which piece of text is red.
Now, if you want to get really really good at knowing what’s red and what’s green then yeah, brain training games might be flipping awesome. But really who wants that? Do brain training games truly train your breain in anything meaningful and quantifiable?
I spent Thursday training my brain with Lumosity. I was shooting down birds. Then on Friday I was finding words that began with TO.
I’ve been trying these brain training games for about a month, mostly from a research point of view, trying to work out whether brain training games actually work. And I’ve constantly been question, ” Is brain training real or a fad?”
I’ve done memory testing games, reasoning games, spatial awareness and tons more. According to Lumosity, the place that made these games, spending a few minutes playing makes you “Smarter and brighter”(somehow while real video games make you less intelligent. . . really, are they that different? I think not.).
The idea is that playing games boosts your IQ. Tons of people buy into this idea and thanks to the commerciality of the prospect, major video game developers like Nintendo are doing similar things.
Lumosity has grown 150% year on year since 2005. It has over 35 million players. In January the Lumosity app made $25 million.
Lumosity was cofounded by Michael Scanlon, who left his PHd in Neuroscience at Stanford University. According to Lumosity’s head of communications, Erica Perng “The games are founded on the principles of neuroplasticity, the fact that the brain can reorganise itself to complete certain challenges.” Sounds great, that, reorganising your brain to be good at spotting which words are red.
Brain training games aren’t just used online, either. In the US they are used in schools and there’s some evidence that suggests that brain training games can help lower the chances of developing early onset dementia.
So, do brain training games really work? Is brain training real?
So, are these brain training games really scientifically validated? Or is it just ultra-commercial money-gobbling rhetoric? In 2008 Susanne Jaeggi’s study showed that memory training could indeed raise an individual’s IQ. But then a group of psychologists at Georgia Tech performed a similar study which concluded the opposite. Then there’s Dr Adrian Owen’s 2010 study which showed that games involving reasoning and memory planning improved an individual’s ability to complete these specific tasks but had little affect on anything else. We get better at the games themselves but not at anything else.This explains why the end test results of sites like Lumosity is so positive: the gamers do get better at playing the games (which is what the test is on) but not better at anything else.
So, what are we left with? The scientific evidence suggests that a) people reorganise their brains to get better at specific challenges; b) the challenges we’re getting better at are challenges like spotting which words is red, c) end tests results on sites like Lumosity mean very little and d) people really want to take control of their brains.
Huh. If only there were some scientifically proven ways to train your brain. Oh wait, we just do this complete free thing that actually works.