There is significant variation around what products are designed to do and around how much evidence there is to back them up. This wide variation is often confusing for customers and even professionals. Out of the hundreds of products out there making brain training claims we include in this guide the ones that have at the very least a well-articulated scientific rationale, a basic level of scientific testing and consumer-usability, and are developed by known organizations which offer professional customer care.
Some companies seem to be betting that the main buying criteria for their products will not be clinical validation, but ease of use and engagement value. Other developers are investing in developing the science that will enable them to make clinical claims, but their products run the risk of being too repetitive and uninspiring for consumer audiences.
The majority of products are sold as software that can be loaded onto a home computer or laptop. Some products can only be used online. There are also devices, such as Nintendo’s Brain Age that only work on its DS platform, or Dakim’s touch screen computer.
In summary, there are multiple factors to take into consideration when selecting a brain fitness product.Â These factors range from the level of clinical validation to the user’s intended goal.
Each buyer, either consumer or professional, would do well to use the Checklist provided above before purchasing any product. To help you further, we have selected 21 Quick Picks by rating programs against the criteria in the Checklist based on our judgment, the evidence available, and consumer and professional feedback that we have received over the last 2 years.
This new online resource is based on the content from the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fernandez and Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg.