Brain games don’t make you smarter

Published:  May 2, 2010
Brain games don’t make you smarter

If you have been spending your days trying to get your brain age down and playing sudoku via a digital brain training game, you might as well be playing Super Mario, new research suggests.

In a recent six-week study for the BBC science show “Bang Goes the Theory”, experts found that those playing these games to improve their cognitive skills didn’t get any smarter. In the study, almost 9,000 people aged 18 to 60 were asked to play online brain games designed by the researchers to improve their memory and other skills for at least 10 minutes a day, three times a week. They were then compared to 2,700 people who didn’t play any brain games, but spent a similar amount of time surfing the Internet and answering general knowledge questions. All participants were given a sort of I.Q. test before and after the experiment.

The study revealed that those who did the brain training didn’t do any better on the subsequent tests after the six week period when compared to those who had only been in the Internet, and in some cases, the people on the Internet scored higher.

“If you’re (playing these games) because they’re fun, that’s absolutely fine,” said Adrian Owen, assistant director of the Cognition and Brain Sciences unit at Britain’s Medical Research Council, the study’s lead author. “But if you’re expecting (these games) to improve your I.Q., our data suggests this isn’t the case.”

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