Brain training Mindfit

Which? Archive

This article, Brain training, was last updated on 25 February 2009 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Technology articles.

Mindfit main

What it is: PC CD-Rom

Price: £88 

From: MindFit

The company says

MindFit exercises important abilities that are used in everyday life and are known to decline in later life, such as short-term memory, spatial memory, visual perception, scanning, divided attention, shifting, awareness, hand-eye coordination, time estimation, planning and inhibition. 

The systematic exercising of these functions with MindFit has been shown to improve performance.

The evidence 

MindFit is endorsed by the renowned neuroscientist, Baroness Susan Greenfield. We were sent three studies.

Our experts say

None of the studies is published in a reputable scientific journal.

Adrian Owen said that two have ‘basic design flaws’, for example there isn’t a control group in either case, which means it’s impossible to say that the improvement noted in people that used MindFit would not also have happened with any other form of regular computer use.The third study, though unpublished, is well designed and sticks to good scientific principles. It suggests that MindFit’s claims may be more credible than those made by other products, though the results didn’t show it was significantly better than playing computer games like Tetris (which the control group were asked to do).

The average age of those in the study was over 50, so it isn’t possible to say these improvements would be seen in younger people.

Paul Howard-Jones said the results were encouraging, but MindFit could be dull to use as its tasks were similar to those used in laboratory experiments, which aren’t usually designed with fun in mind. Another claim made was that ‘cognitively challenging’ activity protects against Alzheimer’s. Chris Bird said even if that was true, it was unlikely brain-training would be more effective than doing crosswords or joining a book club.

Which? member says

Heather McAlone, 47, said: ‘I quite enjoyed a couple of the activities, but mainly it was slow and tedious. I don’t think it’s good value for money. I paid £5.99 for a book of cryptic crosswords, which really gives my brain a workout.’