An article appearing in the June edition of Brain in the News takes on the “brain games” industry, made up of websites, such as Luminosity, and other software-based brain-training games, such as those produced by Cogmed.

The theory behind brain games is that they improve overall intellectual ability; in other words, they make you smarter. Some brain game websites purport that specific games can improve attention deficit problems, memory problems associated with normal aging, and the results of brain injury.

The use of brain games to improve the brain’s working memory are based on the decade-old research of Torkel Kingberg, who studied the effects of computer games on children’s memory. (Students in the Phillips Art Therapy program study memory and other aspects of brain functioning in the two interpersonal neurobiology courses required during the second year.)

Within the last year, however, several studies, including a meta-analysis of 23 research studies, have concluded that, “the games may yield improvements in the narrow task being trained, but this does not transfer to broader skills like the ability to read or do arithmetic, or to other measures of intelligence. Playing the games makes you better at the games … but not at anything anyone might care about in real life.”

To read the complete article by Gareth Cook, which was originally published in The New Yorker, click here.


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