A new study in Nature is calling into question whether cognitive training games/software is actually beneficial. The study found that there was no significant difference in cognitive test performance before or after cognitive training for either the experimental or control groups.
Here is more about the study from Nature’s News:
The study, a collaboration between British researchers and the BBC Lab UK website, recruited viewers of the BBC science programme Bang Goes the Theory to practise a series of online tasks for a minimum of ten minutes a day, three times a week, for six weeks. In one group, the tasks focused on reasoning, planning and problem-solving abilities — skills correlated with general intelligence. A second group was trained on mental functions targeted by commercial brain-training programs — short-term memory, attention, visuospatial abilities and maths. A third group, the control subjects, simply used the Internet to find answers to obscure questions. A total of 11,430 volunteers aged from 18 to 60 completed the study, and although they improved on the tasks, the researchers believe that none of the groups boosted their performance on tests measuring general cognitive abilities such as memory, reasoning and learning.
"There were absolutely no transfer effects" from the training tasks to more general tests of cognition, says Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cognition and Brian Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK, who led the study. "I think the expectation that practising a broad range of cognitive tasks to get yourself smarter is completely unsupported."
Critics of the study claim that the test group was the wrong demographic, and that either a much younger or older test group would yield better results. Furthermore they claim that the number of sessions involved was too small to see a difference. The experimenters countered that some members of the test group independently performed an extreme number of sessions, and even these individuals showed no difference in outcome.
As the debate rages on, people continue to spend time and money on cognitive training and talking into their Nintendo DS’s in public.
Come up with your own opinion, read the study.