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Study discredits the effectiveness of Brain Age

Researchers at the University of Rennes, Brittany, have concluded that Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training or Brain Age is no more effective at improving your cognitive abilities than playing Scrabble or completing Sudoku puzzles.

Brain Age is a puzzle video game published and developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS portable video game console. It has been marketed as a tool for improving your mental sharpness and is an example of a game that appealed to a very wide audience that reached beyond traditional gamers.

Alain Lieury professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Rennes stated, “The Nintendo DS is a technological jewel. As a game it’s fine, but it would be charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test.”

To back their claims with evidence the research team experimented on 67 10-year-old children. The first two groups undertook a seven-week memory course using the Nintendo DS; the third group completed puzzles using just a pencil and paper; the fourth group did no extra work outside of their regular school curriculum.

Logic, memory, and mathematical tests carried out before and after the study were compared and children who were trained on the Nintendo DS failed to show any significant improvements in memory tests.

According to the Telegraph, Nintendo defended its edutainment titles such as Brain Age, stating that it had never claimed the games were scientifically proven to improve cognitive function. In the words of a Nintendo spokes person, “The challenges in Brain Training and More Brain Training are inspired by the exercises developed by respected neurologist Dr Kawashima, who believes that the brain needs to be exercised to help stay fit in the same way that our bodies need exercise to stay in shape,”.
Brain Age has been a sales success that has been able to appeal to more than traditional gamers. Developing games that appeal to a wider audience has brought Nintendo incredible success both with the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii. Although this study may discredit the effectiveness of Brain Age, future Brain Age titles will most likely still see success thanks to Nintendo's clever marketing. 

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By Bender 123 on 1/28/2009 10:35:42 AM , Rating: 5
How did it compare to the control group that did nothing? I would assume the paper and pencil group would be the same, as the title is just a delivery platform for the same puzzles done on paper.

Thats the piece missing...Its not the comparison between how you do it, but between those that do it or dont that matters.

RE: So...?
By AnnihilatorX on 1/28/2009 10:37:35 AM , Rating: 2
I also think the article is incomplete.
Is there a link to the original research?

Logic, memory, and mathematical tests carried out before and after the study were compared and children who were trained on the Nintendo DS failed to show any significant improvements in memory tests.

What about mathematical tests?

RE: So...?
By oab on 1/28/2009 10:42:00 AM , Rating: 5
From experience in grade 4 I was singled out for needing to improve my basic arithmetic skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, in terms of speed), and after a couple months of daily doing "the mad minute" (solve as many basic arithmetic problems in one minutes time), I was #2 in my class.

Practise helps significantly, especially with math. I have no doubt that the math part worked. Your quote mentions testing in logic, memory and mathematics, but only says that no improvements were found in memory. I guess that means that it improved logic and math abilities as the tests measured them.

RE: So...?
By ciparis on 1/28/2009 3:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
agreed -- the group's purported finding sounds like grandstanding when such an obvious question is left unanswered; my assumption was that the DS was found to be just as effective as other puzzles (and that both would be more effective than doing nothing), which the article text seems to support.

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