Brain training may do little more than train healthy brains to be good at brain training, yet another study suggests.
In the new controlled, randomized trial involving 128 healthy young adults, researchers found that playing Lumosity brain-training games for 30-minute sessions, five times a week for 10 weeks resulted in participants getting better at playing the games. But researchers saw no changes in participants’ neural activity and no improvements in their cognitive performance beyond those seen in controls. The same went for participants who played video games not designed with cognitive benefits in mind.
The research, led by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Joseph Kable, is the latest ding to the billion-dollar industry that suggests its games can beef up mental abilities and ward off the cognitive declines of old age—among other things. Last year, Lumosity paid $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that it baited customers with bogus claims that its games could cure and prevent mental declines and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. No data suggest that the games can do that. And studies and analyses into the less grand claims of mental improvements have also been mixed: many found that benefits may only be seen in some users; those benefits may not extend beyond placebo effects, and they may not translate into real-world improvements in brain function.