Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brain Age: Save Your Money, Play Scrabble

The effectiveness of Nintendo's Brain Age and other 'Brain Exercise' games has been put to the test lately. In a recent study from the University of Rennes, Brittany, researchers found that playing Brain Age was no more effective than simply playing scrabble or completing Sudoku puzzles. Another review study which appeared in Alzheimer's and Dementia suggested that there is actually no evidence that these sorts of "interventions" delay or slow the progression of cognitive changes in the elderly.

In terms of entertainment, these games are all fine and great, but they have been marketed as "secret weapons" in the fight against aging brains, which they are most definitely not. There is no harm in playing these games as long as they don't take time away from participating in other, proven "brain aging" interventions such as simple exercise or physical activity.

Nintendo actually acknowledges that these games are only "inspired" by claims that the brain needs exercising, just as the body does. Also, they have never actually claimed that there is any scientific basis behind their popular video games.

Hmm...something to think about next time you're thinking of flexing your cognitive muscles.