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Brain training games don't work, finds BBC study

Browsing web just as good at keeping brain fit

Brain training games such as those available on the Nintendo DS handheld games console do nothing to keep the brain ‘fit', according to a BBC study.

Games such as Dr Kawashima's Brain Training encourage users to perform mental arithmetic and language tests to help stimulate the brain.
But the BBC says that while players get progressively better at solving the tasks set by such games, those skills are not transferrable to everyday tasks.

Nintendo DS brain trainingBBC One science programme Bang Goes The Theory studied 11,430 people using tests designed by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer's Society over a six-week period to measure the impact of the games, but found that "players gained nothing in terms of general reasoning, memory, planning or visuospatial abilities".

The volunteers were tested for improvements in short-term memory, attention, mathematical abilities, reasoning and planning, among other skills.

But Dr Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at the Medical Research Council who worked on the study, said "there are no significant differences between the improvements seen in participants who played our brain training games, and those who just went on the internet for the same length of time".

'Can You Train Your Brain? A Bang Goes the Theory Special' is on BBC One this evening - Wednesday 21 April - at 9pm.

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