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Brain Training doesn't help learning

Brain Training doesn't help learning

According to a new study conducted in France, Nintendo's Brain Training can actually harm memory.

According to a new piece of research conducted by scientists from the University of Rennes, France, Nintendo's Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? game offers no significant advantages over paper-based learning techniques and can actually harm memory functions.

The study was done by splitting a sample of ten year-old children of similar ability into four groups and evaluating their maths and memory performance through a series of tests. The first two groups did a seven-week course of learning on Brain Training, while the third group did similar puzzles on paper and the fourth group was allowed to go to school as usual. Tests were then conducted before and after each session.

The results however showed that the DS control groups didn't do any better than the other groups and actually performed worse when it came to basic memory tests.

According to The Times, the DS control group only did better in the maths tests - and even then, only by 1 percent. While the DS showed an improvement in maths ability by 19 percent, the paper-based group were able to match this, while the school-goers showed an increase of 18 percent.

In the memory tests the paper-based group was a clear winner, with an improvement of 33 percent against the school-goers who got 20 percent improvement and the DS group who showed a 17 percent decrease in memory faculties.

"The Nintendo DS is a technological jewel. As a game it's fine, but it is charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test," said Professor Alain Lieury.

"There were few positive effects and they were weak. Dr Kawashima is one of a long list of dream merchants."

Do you ever try to use games as an educational experience? Let us know in the forums.

11 Comments

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Ta10n 26th January 2009, 13:17 Quote
O lol!

All this brain training crap always did seem silly to me, although I suppose they'll need to do a few more studies before the evidence is really conclusive. The reduction in memory performance is probably because these brain training things involve short problems that require little if any use of working memory. Whereas most paper problems and school work use longer problems, making use of substantial amounts of working memory.

So essentially the brain training ends up training you for mental challenges that don't have much of a place in everyday life.

Therefore the whole idea is a sham!
Golygus 26th January 2009, 13:50 Quote
From what I understood about the "game" is that it helps keep the brain "in shape".

I doesn't act to make people more intelligent, just sharper mental reflexes.

The fact that the minimum age your brain can be (in game) is 20 says why are they testing it on school kids!?!

Test it on a bunch of 50+ people and see where you go from there....

I'm not saying it works or not, but I think the above research was aimed at the wrong group!
Neji 26th January 2009, 13:56 Quote
Oh, looks like it's time for the {insert Nintendo game here} is actually not effective for {insert claimed benefit of game here} stories again.

It never claimed to be better than paper. It's just easier and more fun for most people to carry their DS with them. If it gets kids interested in maths/problem solving then it's a good thing.
Mentai 26th January 2009, 13:58 Quote
There has long been the saying that you brain is like a muscle, if you don't use it, it becomes unfit. I don't think this game is aimed at school children. It's more to do with keeping older generations mentally active.
Nexxo 26th January 2009, 15:09 Quote
There has never been any neuropsychological research to support the notion that such programs improve cognitive functioning. At best functional improvements acquired are very specific to the task. With the brain it is a matter of "use it or lose it", but the cognitive activities involved need the be those of everyday life.
naokaji 26th January 2009, 15:17 Quote
Doing research on games? what a job:D

I don't think games can make someone who is stupid intelligent, maybe the brain traning games went a bit too far with the advertising, but no real surprise there.
Omnituens 26th January 2009, 16:04 Quote
I've always doubted the brain training games - i think your brain just gets better at down THOSE task (ie the ones in the game) and not the generic task that it falls under.

As a way of getting kids interested in doing problem solving, I think they are still good.
Otto69 26th January 2009, 17:52 Quote
Interesting! Now, let's see the same study done with middle aged and old people. Maybe kids are already at their peak, and the apps can help older people regarin some capacity.

Signed,

an Older Person.
dylAndroid 26th January 2009, 23:42 Quote
The article in the Times is not clearly written as to whether or not the first three groups also did traditional schooling. It almost seems to imply that they did not. If that's the case, then they have no control group. I don't think anyone is claiming that the game is a replacement for school.

Also, the assertion by the researcher that it must help kids to help adults ignores issues of aging and protecting against mental decline, which I believe is the real potential benefit of the program.
itazura 26th January 2009, 23:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
There has long been the saying that you brain is like a muscle, if you don't use it, it becomes unfit. I don't think this game is aimed at school children. It's more to do with keeping older generations mentally active.

this.
Bauul 27th January 2009, 09:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
There has long been the saying that you brain is like a muscle, if you don't use it, it becomes unfit. I don't think this game is aimed at school children. It's more to do with keeping older generations mentally active.

this again.

The research fails for not understanding the target audience of the game. It's like testing nicotine patches on a bunch of 10 year old non-smokers.
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