“In October 2014, more than 70 scientists published an open letter objecting to marketing claims made by brain training companies. Pretty soon, another group, with more than 100 scientists, published a rebuttal saying brain training has a solid scientific base.
“So you had two consensus statements, each signed by many, many people, that came to essentially opposite conclusions,” Simons says.
In an effort to clarify the issue, Simons and six other scientists reviewed more than 130 studies of brain games and other forms of cognitive training…The scientists found that “many of the studies did not really adhere to what we think of as the best practices,” Simons says…“The evaluation was very even-handed and raised many excellent points,” says George Rebok, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University who has been involved in brain training research for the past 20 years. “It really helped raise the bar in terms of the level of science that we must aspire to.”
Study: Do “Brain-Training” Programs Work? (Psychological Science in the Public Interest)
- From the abstract: This article provides such a review, focusing exclusively on the use of cognitive tasks or games as a means to enhance performance on other tasks…Based on this examination, we find extensive evidence that brain-training interventions improve performance on the trained tasks, less evidence that such interventions improve performance on closely related tasks, and little evidence that training enhances performance on distantly related tasks or that training improves everyday cognitive performance. We also find that many of the published intervention studies had major shortcomings in design or analysis that preclude definitive conclusions about the efficacy of training, and that none of the cited studies conformed to all of the best practices we identify as essential to drawing clear conclusions about the benefits of brain training for everyday activities. We conclude with detailed recommendations for scientists, funding agencies, and policymakers that, if adopted, would lead to better evidence regarding the efficacy of brain-training interventions.
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