Brain games graded an 'F' in making you smarter

Training your brain with games and applications doesn’t improve brain function, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Researchers from Florida State University found, while the number of brain training apps have grown in popularity, their claims on improving brain function are false.

Led by Neil Charness, professor of psychology and a leading authority on aging and cognition, and Wally Boot, associate professor of psychology, the study reviews popular brain games and their claims to improve brain function. Taking the large population of people who believe the effectiveness of these games, researchers test that belief by focusing on whether brain games could improve the “working memory” needed for completing a variety of tasks.

These brain games, which go for $15 a month, were tested on participants by playing the video game “Mind Frontiers”. Researchers evaluated the games effectiveness in improving the players’ working memory, reasoning, memory and processing speed.

"Our findings and previous studies confirm there's very little evidence these types of games can improve your life in a meaningful way," said Boot, an expert on age-related cognitive decline.

"I wouldn't come away from our article totally discouraged," Charness said. "It's another piece of the puzzle that we're all trying to assemble. It's discouraging in the sense that we can't find far transfer and that seems to be a fairly consistent finding in research. But if your real goal is to improve cognitive function and brain games are not helping, then maybe you are better off getting aerobic exercise rather than sitting in front of the computer playing these games."