In our quest to become smarter, many of us have to taken to using books, apps and trainers. In this piece, Anjana Ahuja says that there is no evidence that any of this stuff is actually of any use.
“Scientists, though, have long been sceptical of the brain-training industry, forecast to be worth more than $8bn by 2021. The claim is that tailored video games can sharpen cognitive skills and delay the hallmarks of senility such as memory loss. The view of the Alzheimer’s Society is that “no studies have shown that brain training prevents dementia…
Til Wykes, professor of clinical psychology at King’s College London, who was not involved in the study, suggested that eight hours a month might be better spent going for a walk or to the gym. Exercise helps cognitive health, as does staying mentally engaged by, say, playing board games.
Her dismissive analysis hints at the evidence deficit haunting the brain-training industry. Individual studies purporting to showcase a causal link between games and better brainpower tend to be small, short-term and of wildly varying designs, making results inconclusive or unreliable. Any benefits tend to be judged using other computer tests, rather than whether users cope better with everyday challenges (the “generalisability” problem).”
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