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Study slams brain-training games' mental improvement claims

Pencil and paper just as good

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A survey has concluded that brain-training games don’t provide the rigorous mental workout you may have thought they did.

Games such as Big Brain Academy on the Wii, and Dr KawaShima’s Brain Training on the DS, supposedly help keep your mind sharp by putting your brain through various mental exercises.

However, a study by Alain Lieury, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Rennes, France found that such a notion holds no scientific merit.

“As a game it’s fine, but it is charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test,” he said.

His research used 67 ten-year-old kids split into four groups: two teams were asked to complete a seven-week memory course using a DS brain-training game, while another group completed puzzles using pencil and paper.

The fourth group didn’t do any extra brain-training tests, other than their usual schoolwork.

By comparing the results of logic, memory and maths tests carried out prior to starting the seven-week course with tests conducted afterwards, Lieury discovered that the groups using the DS actually recorded a 17 per cent decrease in memory tests after seven weeks.

In contrast, kids from the pencil-and-paper group saw their memory-test scores increase by 33 per cent.

However, the results weren’t all bad for brain-training games. Members of DS groups saw their logic-test scores improved by ten per cent - but so did the pencil-and-paper users.

A 19 per cent increase in mathematical skills was recorded by both groups.

Nonetheless, Nintendo has since claimed – in a statement sent to The Telegraph - that such games do provide “a workout for the brain” and can also “help stimulate the player’s memory”. ®

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