If you thought brain games could make you smarter, think again. In a study, researchers at Florida State University in the US found no evidence that such games increase overall cognitive abilities.
An increasing number of people believe brain training helps protect them against memory loss or cognitive disorders, said Neil Charness, Professor of Psychology.
“Our findings and previous studies confirm there’s very little evidence these types of games can improve your life in a meaningful way,” Associate Professor Wally Boot said.
The study focused on whether brain games could boost the “working memory” needed for a variety of tasks.
In their study, the researchers set up one group of people to play a specially designed brain-training video game called “Mind Frontiers,” while another group of players performed crossword games or number puzzles.
All players were given lots of information they needed to juggle to solve problems.
Researchers tested whether the games enhanced players’ working memory and consequently improved other mental abilities, such as reasoning, memory and processing speed.
That is the theory behind many brain games: If you improve overall working memory, which is fundamental to so much of what we do every day, then you can enhance performance in many areas of your life.
The team examined whether improving working memory would translate to better performance on other tasks.
They found no such evidence, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
“It’s possible to train people to become very good at tasks that you would normally consider general working memory tasks: memorizing 70, 80, even 100 digits,” Charness said.
“But these skills tend to be very specific and not show a lot of transfer. The thing that seniors in particular should be concerned about is, if I can get very good at crossword puzzles, is that going to help me remember where my keys are? And the answer is probably no,” Charness said.
The researchers suggested that to improve cognitive function, people should better get some aerobic exercise rather than sitting in front of the computer playing these games.