Guest Post by Kayt Sukel
There are few topics in the neuroscience world that can spark instant debate—but “brain games,” or computer programs or training products that promise to help improve cognitive skills like memory and attention, is definitely one of them. Over the past two years:
- Institutes including the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development published a comprehensive declaration objecting to the way that brain games are currently marketed;
- more than 100 aging and cognitive training researchers, led by Michael Merzenich (professor emeritus at the University of California San Francisco and founder of brain training company, PositScience), published a response challenging that declaration’s statement that “there is no compelling scientific evidence” that brain exercises work;
- the Federal Trade Commission has fined several companies, including brain game giant Lumosity, for deceptive advertising and marketing practices.
It’s likely this debate will continue for some time, especially now that a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), has demonstrated a strong placebo effect after a brief cognitive training program. Continue reading