Have you been playing Brain Training (known as Brain Age in the U.S.) or its sequel on your way to work, feeling good about yourself as you utilise your DS for something useful? Have you outsmarted your friends recently and thought, "there's that grey matter at work!"? According to a study recently published by the BBC, you're no smarter than the average gamer.
The study followed 11,430 people over six weeks to see what effect playing these games had, and found that the only thing that improved were the subjects' scores on the games themselves. Chosen from a pool of volunteers who view the BBC program Bang Goes the Theory, the players participated in ten minutes of brain training a day. The group was split into thirds, two of whom tried out different types of mental exercises during the experiment while the third just browsed the web.
According to Dr. Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at the Medical Research Council:
The results are clear. Statistically, 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.
Rebecca Wood of the Alzheimer's Research Trust suggests that scientists will conduct future experiments on the games' effect on cognition relative to age. Even so, this will surely be disheartening news to anyone who thinks that playing Brain Training games is enough to maintain their mental might.