'Brain training' games do not improve mental skills, study says

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The Independent Online

Brain training games do not work, according to a study into claims that it is possible to "exercise" the brain with computer tests.

A mass experiment involving nearly 11,500 members of the public failed to find any improvement in mental performance after people regularly used brain-training games on their computers for a period of six weeks.

Scientists said that the results contradicted some of the claims of the brain-training industry, which regularly promotes its computer games as a method of improving a person's mental skills through "exercising".

Volunteers were split into three groups, with two practising training games every day and the third only browsing the internet.

Adrian Owen of the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit said there were no significant differences in tests before and after the six-week trial in any of the three groups. "The results are clear. There are no significant differences between the improvements seen in participants who played our brain-training games, and those who just went on the internet for the same length of time," he said.

Although people did get better at doing the tests, this was simply because of practice and was not related to an overall improvement in cognitive functions such as reasoning and memory, the scientists said.