Brain trainers’ claims strain credibilityClaims not backed up by hard evidence
26 February 2009
The claim that expensive brain trainers can improve your memory and keep your mind healthy have been disputed by experts.
The scientists were asked by Which? to examine the research behind the claims made by manufacturers of brain training products and found there was little scientific evidence to back them up.
Experts looked to see if the evidence satisfied the minimum standards by which quality research is judged – including whether it had been peer reviewed by experts in the field and published in a recognised scientific journal.
On the back of TV ads featuring celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters, Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training for the Nintendo DS has become hugely popular.
Nintendo said it does not claim that Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training can improve the brain’s health or reverse the effects of ageing.
However the product’s instruction book says that ‘training can help consolidate memory and creativity and may hopefully help develop a resistance against decline in later life’.
This claim was dismissed by experts who said: ‘There is no evidence that using this product will have any functional impact on your life whatsoever.’
Similarly weak evidence was found by experts for claims made by the other products that Which? looked at – Mindfit by Mindweavers, Test and Improve Your Memory by Focus Multimedia, Lumosity by Lumos Labs and Mind Spa by A/V Stim.
Which editor Martyn Hocking said: ‘If people enjoy using these games, then they should continue to do so – that’s a no-brainer. But if people are under the illusion that these devices are scientifically proven to keep their minds in shape, they need to think again.’
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