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Nintendo Science Games

Brain Training Games Don't Train Your Brain 151

Stoobalou writes with this excerpt from "A new study has shown that brain training games do little to exercise the grey matter. Millions of people who have been prodding away at their Nintendo DS portable consoles, smug in the knowledge that they are giving their brains a proper work-out, might have to rethink how they are going to stop the contents of their skulls turning into mush."
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Brain Training Games Don't Train Your Brain

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:13PM (#31929052)
    Of course Brain training, Wii Fit etc. don't work. They're the video game equivalent of ab trainers - designed to appeal to lazy stupid people who think they can acquire a genius mind or a godlike physique by buying Nintendo's latest gimmick.
  • by garg0yle ( 208225 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:19PM (#31929194) Journal

    The article says, in essence, that the study found that using Brain Academy type software for six weeks did not improve cognitive function. However, nowhere does the study prove, as the article alleges, that use of such software could not slow the rate of cognitive decay. These are two entirely different things - the second one would require a long-term study tracking both users and non-users over, say, 20 or 30 years.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:25PM (#31929358) Homepage
    Anyone that thinks you'll go from a tard to a genius will be disappointed. However, practising anything improves you ability at that particular thing. Take normal video games and put a newbie in front of Contra and then stick in someone who has been playing it for years. There will be a huge difference. Some people see bigger gains than others. For instance if I continue playing Mega man games I do get better but I'll never master them. That and I don't think we should complain too much about something that helps people take interest in things like math over wasting their morning reading the Daily Mail, Sun or something equally brain damaging.
  • by DeadDecoy ( 877617 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:29PM (#31929460)
    Well, short term studies tend to be more tractable in academia due to limited funding. But I don't really find the results all that surprising. The brain games don't really challenge deeper cognitive functions but try to simply train your physical memory to react better to rudimentary problems. Jotting down 6 x 7 really fast isn't likely to expand your mind. If you really wanted to sharpen your brain, you'd study something like physics, philosophy, or music in greater depth. Those and other subjects use rudimentary skills in a broader sense to build more complex models, which improve your understanding of the world.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:38PM (#31929644) Homepage

    What really caught me was they said that doing the training sped up your ability to do things you trained on (duh). NPR gave the example of a baggage scanner where the number of bags going in and out changes, you you have to keep track of the number of bags in the machine at any given moment.

    So that may not be useful to your everyday life, and games that are similar aren't supposed to benefit. But what about the games you do in real life? As I remember, the first two Brain Training games Nintendo put out had many real world things like simple math problems (6 + 3, 7 * 5), reading analog clocks, and making change. These are all things people do in real life. Maybe doing tons of elementary math problems won't make you smarter, but it will make you faster and more confident when you have to do simple math, and that's a plus.

    Count the number of spinning yellow number 7s in this jumble may not be that applicable to real life, but some are.

    Nintendo never advertised the games would make you smarter. They framed it as "keeping your brain fit", like you keep your muscles fit by using them. There have been tons of copy-cats since Brain Training sold so well, and it wouldn't surprise me they claimed (or hinted) they would make you smarter. But doing simple math problems can't make you smarter, only better at simple math problems.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:29PM (#31930532) Journal

    Just make it a habit to engage whatever cognitive functions you most want to retain

    I remember reading a study about how playing music helps you retain much cognitive function.

    If you play piano, say, you are using memorization, hand-eye coordination, hand-ear coordination, sense of rhythm and interval perception. If you play jazz or some other improvised music, you also have to think ahead, count time, and maybe most important, use the higher creative functions. Your doing all that while sending tons of neuro-muscular information to your feet, hands and fingers. On brain-scans, music seems to light up more areas of the brain than other activities.

    Plus, chicks dig musicians, which will of course keep you young in parts of your body besides the brain.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:46PM (#31930888) Homepage

    On average, PhD.s have much healthier brains than most people, even in their 90s or older. They have less incidence of dementia, alzheimers(sp?), and other forms of mental illness. Studies have shown that taking courses at community college, or learning a new language, can help sustain one's mental health in retirement.

    There's a correlation v. causation issue there. It isn't clear that the PhD.s have healthier brains because they are using them more or if they have healthier brains in a way that also allows them to get PhD.s

  • Re:Very well then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by immakiku ( 777365 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:59PM (#31931156)
    I hope you're being sarcastic, because your parent post isn't. Regular exercise has been shown to be important for many mental functions. Sitting around coding all day will probably make your brain duller than engaging in sports will.
  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:54PM (#31932892) Journal

    At the risk of being modded down...

    really, you are afraid to post because of that?

    Be afraid to post because you might have nothing to add to the conversation (like my post), but don't bother caring about how others mod you.

    Peeps with mod points are stupid. chances are, this will make insightful, just to prove a point.

  • Re:Brain Workshop (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jedwidz ( 1399015 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:55PM (#31933608)

    But was Dual N-Back in the study?

    That's not a rhetorical question - I'd really like to know.

    Stating the bleeding obvious but apparently overlooked fact - the results of the study only apply to games included in the study.

    What's more, IIRC Dual N-Back is claimed to improve creative intelligence, not necessarily IQ. I suspect the study was based on IQ-style tests.

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.