Does Brain Training Work?

brainThere is a good chance you’ve seen commercials for the various brain training video games that promise to improve the function of your brain. It is often said that your brain is like a muscle and the more you use it the better it gets. It would certainly be great if you could improve your brain from training it but let’s see what the studies that have focused on this matter found.

Can Help Older Brains

Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan did a study to see whether or not a Nintendo game designed to improve brain function called Brain Age could help elderly people improve their brains. Throughout this study, researchers had 28 elderly people play either the Brain Age game or the popular game Tetris. Before this study began, none of the people in this study played video games on a regular basis.

skull brain

These participants were asked to play their respective game for roughly 15 minutes per day at least 5 days per week for 20 days. These participants also had the performance of their brains measured before and after the training period.

What they wound up finding was that the brain training game Brain Age did seem to improve the brain function of the test subjects in 2 main ways. They found that the game improved executive or decision making function and that it also improved processing speed which indicates how quickly you can make sense of information you’re presented with. These results suggest that there is some validity to the idea that at least elderly people can improve their brain function with curtain games.

Can Help Young Brains Too

The same research group that studied the effects of brain training in older adults did another study in order to see if brain training games could benefit young people as well. These researchers recruited 32 young adults and had them play either Brain Age or Tetris for 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 4 weeks. The test subjects had their brain function tested before and after the training period.

brain neurons

By the end of the experiment researchers found that the brain training game, Brain Age, improved decision making skills, working memory and processing speed. They also found that Tetris improved the test subject’s attention and something else called visuo-spatial ability which relates to understanding visual representations and their spatial relationships. These results suggest that video games can also improve brain function in young people.

Can It Help Children?

Another research group in Sweden wanted to know if computerized brain training programs could even work on young children still in preschool. They had a group of preschool students use a computerized brain training program and had another group not use the program. All of the children in this study had their brain function tested before and after the brain training.

holding brain

They found that the computerized brain training program was able to improve the working memories of these children and also improved their attention. These results suggest children can also train their brains and reap the benefits.

Do All Games Work?

Another study done at the Georgia Institute of Technology was done to see if using another Nintendo game called Big Brain Academy could improve brain function in any measurable way. This study involved 78 people between the ages of 50 and 71 who either played the Big Brain Academy game or completed 20 reading sessions that lasted 1 hour and covered 4 different current topics. Each treatment lasted for 1 month. They had the function of their brains measured by completing several tests before and after the training period. These researchers seemed to find that while the test subjects got better at the game from practice, they didn’t seem to have much of an improvement in brain function. Unlike with the last study, they didn’t find that this game improved the brain in any real measurable way.

All things considered there seems to be a fair amount of evidence showing that brain training can improve the brain.


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