There are a lot of apps that promise to make users smarter. These apps can be described as little games that are meant to challenge the human brain and serve as an exercise for strengthening overall cognitive functions, especially memory and attention. While a lot of people do use such apps, some of them even report benefiting from playing such games; a new research has come forward with findings which conclude that such brain exercises don’t work.
It is commonly thought that when a person practices something, not only do they see an improvement in how they perform that particular task but they also experience an improvement in their general mental capabilities. This sort of thinking was used by educators when it came to justifying that studying Latin was helpful for students. Apparently, studying a dead language is supposed to help kids think logically and improve their memory. However, when this notion was researched, experts found out that there was no proof that it worked.
While practicing does make a person become better at a particular task it doesn’t have any effects that would lead to the improvement of broader mental ability. A previously conducted research, back from 2008, allowed people to find support for the idea that memory games do work. Subjects were trained, by researchers from the University of Michigan, on a working memory task. A person’s working memory can be described as the ability of an individual’s mind to juggle information, such as calculating the answer to 40×13. The researchers observed that participants who practiced tasks related to working memory were better at other similar tasks as well.
Though a lot of research has been conducted in order to support that the human brain can be trained, there are some other studies, those involving better scientific methods, that have casted a sense of doubt in the medical community: Are brain-training games really beneficial when there’s research that proves otherwise?
The latest research that reviewed 375 scientific studies and was conducted by a group of seven researchers who didn’t have any affiliation with companies that make brain training apps, forwarded the conclusion that there is no proof that these brain games are beneficial for human beings.
One of the crucial things that were seen through numerous reviewed studies was that the placebo effects hadn’t been taken into account. This relates to the overall phenomenon that when individuals play such brain training games that are supposed to help them become smarter, such individuals end up performing a little better during the last test. However, such an occurrence is because people happen to put in more effort and that doesn’t have to do with them becoming mentally stronger due to the tests.
The placebo effect playing a role in the results was seen through a study that was conducted earlier in 2016. A number of fliers were distributed in a college that offered the opportunity for people to take part in a study. However, only some of the fliers talked about the study being about “Brain Training & Cognitive Enhancement” while others didn’t. All of the participants were made to play a brain game for at least an hour (a duration that wouldn’t have any possible effect on a person’s cognitive capability). The researchers observed that people who thought they were participating in a study related to brain training showed a level of improvement after the hour was up. However, the participants who had completed the same brain training but didn’t know what the study was specifically about showed no improvement. This was a crucial flaw that was seen in a lot of reviewed studied as they hadn’t taken into account the expectations of the participants.
Coming to the rest of reviewed studies that were conducted in a comparatively better manner, the researchers found out that individuals did get better at specific or similar tasks if they practice. However, there was no proof to suggest that playing such games also helped to increase their overall smartness.
In the end, it can be said that staying mentally active is a good thing but actually hoping that such brain games will aid in increasing overall smartness isn’t something a person should hope for.