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.