Last Updated Apr 27, 2010 7:37 AM EDT
According to the BPS Research Digest blog, a study involving 11,000 participants conducted for the BBC's Bang Goes The Theory science program found that, "six weeks of computer brain training has little benefit beyond boosting performance on the specific tasks included in the training." Participants were divided into two three groups, two of which did various brain training exercises, and one control group that spent the time simply googling the answers to obscure trivia questions. Who improved most? Trick question: all improved the same amount -- not much.
The vanishingly modest transferable benefits of brain training that were observed, were no greater than those found in the control group after they'd spent time Googling the answers to obscure general knowledge questions....So if you enjoy those commercial mind puzzles, plunk down you cash and play away. But don't spend the money for the benefit of your brain.
The new findings are just the latest to cast doubt on the value of commercial brain training products. A 2008 investigation by the consumer charity Which? concluded that 'none of the claims [of commercial brain training products] are supported by peer-reviewed research published in a recognized scientific journal and involving the specific product'. The Which? investigators, Adrian Owen among them, recommended a healthy diet, physical exercise and challenging mental activities, including learning a new instrument or language, or completing crosswords, as the most effective ways to maintain a healthy mind.