Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

BBC brain training study apparently retracts previous overgeneralized claim that “brain training doesn’t work”

bbcbraintrainingOnline brain training ‘helps older adults with everyday tasks’ (BBC):

“Nearly 7,000 people aged 50 and over signed up for the six-month experiment, launched by BBC TV’s Bang Goes The Theory…Some of the volunteers were encouraged to play online brain training games for 10 minutes at a time, as often as they wished. The others – the control group – were asked to do simple internet searches Read the rest of this entry »

To reach your cognitive potential across the whole lifespan, augment healthy lifestyle with brain training

BrainFitnessTrajectoryCan You Get Smarter? (The New York Times):

“A few years back, a joint study by BBC and Cambridge University neuroscientists put brain training to the test…There was, however a glimmer of hope for subjects age 60 and above…Unlike the younger participants, older subjects showed a significant improvement in verbal reasoning Read the rest of this entry »

Can brain training work? Yes, if it meets these 5 conditions

brain exerciseIn a modern society we are confronted with a wide range of increasingly abstract and interconnected problems. Successfully dealing with such an environment requires a highly fit brain, capable of adapting to new situations and challenges throughout life. Consequently, we expect cross-training the brain to soon become as mainstream as cross-training the body is today, going beyond unstructured mental activity and Read the rest of this entry »

Another victim of the BBC/Nature “brain training” experiment

Have you read the cover story of the New Scientist this week: Mental muscle: six ways to boost your brain?

The article, which includes good information on brain food, the value of meditation, etc., starts by saying that: “Brain training doesn’t work, but there are lots of other ways to give your grey matter a quick boost.” Further in the article you can read “… brain training software has now been consigned to the shelf of technologies that failed to live up to expectations.”

Such claims are based on the one study widely publicized earlier this year: the BBC “brain training” experiment, published by Owen et al. (2010) in Nature.

What happened to the scientific rigor associated with the New Scientist?

As expressed in one of our previous posts: “Once more, claims seem to go beyond the sci­ence back­ing them up … except that in this case it is the researchers, not the devel­op­ers, who are responsible.” (See BBC “Brain Training” Experiment: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly).

Read our two previous posts to get to the heart of the BBC study and what it really means. As Alvaro Fernandez and Dr. Zelinski explore the potential scientific flaws of the study, they both point out that there are very promis­ing pub­lished exam­ples of brain training method­olo­gies that seem to work.

BBC “Brain Training” Experiment: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Scientific critique of BBC/ Nature Brain Training Experiment

Needed: funding for innovative research on slowing cognitive decline via cognitive training

I was really interested in the recent critique of the BBC brain training experiment by Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski. I think Owens et al (2010) was a critical piece of research which was not conducted in the right way and was focusing on the wrong sample population.  I totally agree with the comments by Dr. Zelinski regarding the potential for sample bias and the use of some questionable cognitive measures. However, I would like to take this critique further and question whether the study was value for money when there are other studies which cannot achieve funding but would, in my opinion, show the criticism/scepticism of the use-it-or-lose-it theory.

I think there is not enough criticism about the age of the sample population used in Owens et al. (2010). We have conclusive cognitive and neurological evidence that cognitive/neurological plasticity exists in young adults. There is also adequate evidence that neuroplasticity is evident in older adults. The critical point which I want to make about the sample population in Owens et al. study is that it did not target the correct sample population, that is, older adults who are at risk of cognitive/neuronal atrophy. It does not matter if younger adults improve on brain training tasks, or if skills picked up by younger adults from brain training are not transferred to other cognitive domains, simply because younger adults are good at these skills/cognitive functions. Therefore there is a possibility that ceiling or scaling effects mask the true findings in Owens et al. (2010), as indicated by Zelinski.

The recruitment of the sample population is also very concerning and I do not feel that their control group was appropriate. Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking applied brain science. Explore our most popular resources HERE.

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

2016 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: Reinventing Brain Health in the Digital Age

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.