Scientists chide DS endorsing celebs

Written by Joe Martin

January 4, 2008 // 11:53 a.m.

Tags: #brain #celeb #ds #kawashima #kidman #lite #nintendo #training

Sense About Science, a charitable organisation which aims to promote "good science and evidence in public debates by promoting respect for evidence", has lashed out at celebrity endorsements for "scientific mumbo jumbo" in a recent report - specifically aiming at games like More Brain Training for the Nintendo DS.

The report, which is freely available online, suggests that games like More Brain Training aren't really as helpful as the celebs claim them to be. The game is currently being advertised and endorsed by the likes of Patrick Stewart and Nicole Kidman.

"I've quickly found that training my brain is a great way to keep my mind feeling young," said Kidman, who also claims to play the games regularly.

Dr. Jason Braithwaite, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Birmingham and an ally of the Sense About Science charity, reckons differently though. "While practice at any task should lead to some form of improvement for that specific task, it is not clear that this improvement reflects anything other than a basic learned process for that specific task," he said in the report.

The Brain Training games have been developed by Ryuta Kawahima, professor at Tohoku University in Japan. The fact that he is a neuroscientist too helps to make things extra ambiguous - which egghead should we trust? Braithwaite, Kawashima or Captain Picard?

Do games like Brain Training help you keep young and sprightly in your noggin', or is it all a load of hogwash and delusion? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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