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BBC kills another market

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A BBC TV pop science programme has debunked the notion that brain training games make you smarter - with the help of thousands of viewers.

Brain Test Britain was launched by Bang goes the Theory on BBC Lab UK last September, to find out if brain training has knock-on benefits for memory, planning and problem-solving.

Some 67,000 signed up for the clinical trial and 13,000 people completed the six-week training period. The boffins who designed the clinical trial Dr Adrian Owen and Prof Clive Ballard, have crunched the numbers - and the numbers make disturbing reading for brain training software vendors.

Their study found no evidence that the benefits of playing brain training games transfer to other brain skills - although more research into brain trainers aged 60 and over is required. Of course this might tell the researchers more about the onset of degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's, than about brain training software.

Dr Adrian Owen said: "The result is crystal clear. Brain training is only as good as spending six weeks using the internet. There is no meaningful difference."

Dallas Campbell, Bang Goes The Theory presenter, said: "In true Bang Goes The Theory experimental fashion, we set out to gather real, scientific evidence that would answer the question of whether these games are worth our money. And now we have our answer."

The results for the mass experiment are cast-iron enough for the esteemed science journal Nature to publish (PDF) the findings.

The BBC has published the results in a more accessible form here. ®

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