Do Brain-Training Programs Work?

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by HardOCP News, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. HardOCP News

    HardOCP News [H] News

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    A new study published in the journal Psychological Science says that, in a nut shell, brain-training programs are complete BS. Obviously this is something people have known for a while as more scientists have come out disputing the effectiveness of these brain-training games. Lumosity was even fined $2 million by the FTC almost a year ago for claiming its brain games made you smarter.

    In 2014, two groups of scientists published open letters on the efficacy of brain-training interventions, or “brain games,” for improving cognition. The first letter, a consensus statement from an international group of more than 70 scientists, claimed that brain games do not provide a scientifically grounded way to improve cognitive functioning or to stave off cognitive decline. Several months later, an international group of 133 scientists and practitioners countered that the literature is replete with demonstrations of the benefits of brain training for a wide variety of cognitive and everyday activities. How could two teams of scientists examine the same literature and come to conflicting “consensus” views about the effectiveness of brain training?
     
  2. schoenda

    schoenda Gawd

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    Like physical training, brain training needs to be rigorous to the point of painful, like that brain freeze when you were just figuring out calculus, or like trying to understand quantum physics for an hour every day...really trying, like busting out that last rep in the gym...even then, like physical training, the effect are temporary, ask anyone who was a gym god 20yrs ago and is now just fat and more likely to have a heart attack for it. Does doing biceps all day make you faster, or make any other part of the body stronger? Maybe a little. Does bench pressing 600lbs make you a good basketball player? Also see how many older people who once exercised rigorously and now have arthritis, lumbago, rotator cuff issues, etc, etc...In principal brain training works, in practice it may not be practical or applicable to the areas of life you expect, like many things, being active, mentally, physically, and emotionally as a well rounded lifestyle is the best IMHO.

    Your resident [H] M.D.

    Out the door for a pleasantly rigorous bike ride in an unusually cool Tucson morning...
     
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  3. bigdogchris

    bigdogchris [H]ard as it Gets

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    During your first brain-training lesson, you learn words to best describe your new talent such as pretentiousness, vanity, and narcissism.
     
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  4. Cyraxx

    Cyraxx 2[H]4U

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    I can't say I agree with the general assessment.....

    Consider a simple scenario:

    Child#1 Grows up playing Angry birds and other mindless, stupid, inane games on an iPad. Everytime the kid starts to cry or complain the parents shove an iPad in his face to make him shut-up.
    Child#2 Grows up playing child games that involve critical thinking, thought process, analysis, details, and reading.

    Which child do you think has a higher probability of coming out more successful in school (and life in general?)
     
  5. schoenda

    schoenda Gawd

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    Obviously many on the big money side of nutraceuticals and snake oil treatments, (I am including make you smarter for $$ in this category), are preying on exactly these traits.

    "YOU can be smarter, healthier, better looking, and live longer than EVERYBODY else, all while sporting a superhuman sexual energy, and you don't even need to work hard at it."


    LOL
     
  6. schoenda

    schoenda Gawd

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    Not sure if you were replying to me or the OP, but naturally both groups will grow up being stronger over there baseline in the areas they have practiced. I think the gist of most or this literature is in trying to market a product to delay or prevent specific disease, or enhance ones global intelligence to the point of significance. That is what I was seeing anyhow.

    EDIT: There is certainly evidence and a good consensus that IQ does in fact show plasticity, certainly in childhood and adolescence. I am all for early enrichment and head starts, but sadly most of the products we see making claims to sell products are not at all targeting this population.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
  7. DeathFromBelow

    DeathFromBelow [H]ardness Supreme

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    I'd put my money on the child with smarter parents. I have no evidence that playing angry birds or any other game impedes brain development.

    People put way to much focus on getting the nurture side of things 'right.' The fact is, all the screen time recommendations you see for children have about as much scientific rigor behind them as these brain teaser games we're talking about.
     
  8. DocSavage

    DocSavage 2[H]4U

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    Angry birds is very physics based and so probably helps quite a bit with learning. It's a shame you can't input an angle and pull distance instead of a finger movement though.
     
  9. Ur_Mom

    Ur_Mom I'm Not Serious

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    I didn't think they made you any smarter. I just thought they were fun.

    If anything, it won't make you smarter. But, the practice and continuous working on the problem should be like homework. After enough repetition, you can 'learn' that new technique. Like a puzzle. Same simple way to do it, but you're going to figure out little things to help make you faster.
     
  10. Methadras

    Methadras [H]ardness Supreme

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    Lumosity was basically snake oil on television that ranks right up there with late night AM radio testosterone booster ads.
     
  11. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    They make you better at the games you're playing. That's about it.

    That's not to say you can't train the brain. There's techniques that with practice, can increase your ability to memorize things among other advantages. But these techniques are not easy.

    Miller's Law states the average human brain can hold in working memory 7 bytes plus or minus 2 (5-9). That's why you may remember a basic phone number, but have difficulty if you add the area code. It's also why we tend to chunk numbers in groups of 3-5 (credit cards, phone numbers, ssn).

    People with really good memory use techniques to group up items with already stored data, attach it to other senses, or otherwise give it a meaning. Someone memorizing the order of a deck of cards may assign each card an item of significance (e.g. a monkey) and visualize the order by "walking through" a zoo, using their visualization and calling on other senses to remember the order (hearing, smell, touch). Learning to do this on the fly and rapidly is the hard part.

    The extraordinary people who do math calculations (or other abilities) at an unbelievable rate tend to have the innate ability to see the data differently. There's a few people who do huge calculations because they don't see numbers as symbols, they see them as colors. One guy got this ability by being jumped in an alleyway (beaten half to death, left with brain damage) and is now a math genius.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
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