Dr. Adrian Owen, of the UK Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, takes a critical look at the growing field of “brain training” programs and notes some of the same issues I’ve previously written about (more than once).
It appears the “news” article is in support of a BBC program airing tonight called, Bang Goes the Theory, which is running a brain training “experiment” on its website, the Brain Test Britain experiment. Ironically, the experiment designed for the web has four of the five problems listed below! I guess nobody who designed the experiment talked to Dr. Owen first. Oops.
The five reasons Dr. Owen gives for brain training not quite “being there” in terms of the research support are:
- Research often does not appear in peer-reviewed journals.
- Brain imaging is not “proof.”
- Concerns about control groups used in research.
- The benchmarking often used shows the effects of repetitive learning on the task (e.g., practice) rather than some new “brain training.”
- The results are not generalizable.
Just another article reminding you that engaging in regular exercise and engaging in simple pencil and paper tasks (like Sudoku or the crossword puzzle) — both of which have good research support — are likely cheaper and more effective than most brain training programs.
Read the full article: Does brain training really work?