Computerized brain training produces improvements only on the specific tasks undertaken, not on other cognitive tasks, even similar ones, according to a Canadian study in the journal Neuropsychologia in August 2018.
Researchers had 48 healthy participants, ages 20 to 62, train on a test of short term working memory involving a search for tokens hidden behind squares on the screen (totaling 13 hours of training over 20 days).
Not surprisingly, the participants became good at that test. But when they were subsequently tested on a different but very similar computerized task (which “shared many of the same cognitive and neural properties” as the first task), they did no better than a control group who hadn’t done the first brain training.
These findings “provide compelling evidence that targeted brain training does not produce generalizable improvements on untrained short-term memory tasks in healthy participants,” the study concluded.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Brain Games Get Long-Deserved Scrutiny.