Study slams brain-training games' mental improvement claims
Pencil and paper just as good
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”. ®
@AC - 11:38
"Those 10 year old children never usually have to sit paper based tests in school... The teachers usually leech the answers straight from their brains via top-secret ESP that the government doesn't want you to know about."
I think it's called "faith based" testing...
Mine's the one with the Dawkins book
Not So Fast
As others have pointed out Lieury's hypothesis and conclusions are sloppy. A broader ten week Scottish study last year came to the conclusion that the Nintendo games did improve math scores and by more than 50%. So take your pick.
On the other hand, Nintendo isn't the best out there by far. For a study on a more serious tool Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl's study on Improving Fluid Intelligence by Training Working Memory (PNAS April 2008) recorded increases in mental agility (fluid intelligence) and short term memory of more than 40% after 19 days of focused brain training.
I was so impressed that I contacted the research team and developed a software program using the same method so that anyone can achieve these improvements at home.
Can anyone tell me why
There was 2 DS groups. Therefore there were more children using the DS therefore more likely for there to be a greater thicko to talented kid ratio.
Also why use 67 children in four groups? So each group consisted of 16.75 children, So is there any wonder one of the kids could not concentrate on the brain training, you just amputated his leg below the knee!
Anyways, breaking down the stats
33.5 kids on the DS
16.75 on pen and paper
16.75 on nothing.
What about gender split, past (and better) studies have shown that men are good at logic puzzles and women are better at memory tests. were the groups slit up in equal genders? My thinking was that they wallked in and said spilt yourself up in groups of x. therefore the children banded with their friends (as they would) and the geeks were with the geeks and the "cool" kids with the cool kids. Therefore one group will of course do better than others.
a DS will cost approx £100 they needed 34 of them. So someone decieded to spend near enough £3500 to find this information.
unfair usage of figures and all in all a crap study.
Everyone says "it's as good as pen and paper" -- no! It's as good as pen-and-paper for mathematical and logic skills, but it is *bad* for memory, so it's overall *not* *as* *good*.
But of course the statistical significance of the study is questionable, anyway.
re DS better than paper comments
JonB wrote: :The irony of this is that the only reason the people in the study were doing the paper based test at all was because of the DS game. If that didn't exist they wouldn't have touched them, on that basis the DS game has actually caused an improvement in people who haven't even played it."
Errr. Yes you're absolutely right. Those 10 year old children never usually have to sit paper based tests in school. In fact, some of them have never seen paper-based puzzles before. The teachers usually leech the answers straight from their brains via top-secret ESP that the government doesn't want you to know about.