In a strange way, we are excited that a study is about to published in Nature that shows that a BBC-developed brain training game did not work. We have not seen the training yet as it is currently under embargo, but we’re looking forward to checking it out once it’s in the public domain. I am disappointed that the BBC’s scientists did not find a way to improve cognitive performance in the thousands of people who tried their on-line brain games.
That being said, it’s not a surprise to us, as we know first-hand that building cognitive training that actually works requires the application of some very complicated science principles, years of research, and rigorous testing to get it right. For a thoughtful perspective on this topic, I highly recommend reading this point of view from leading independent brain fitness analyst Alvaro Fernandez of Sharp Brains.
Our team at Posit Science knows how hard it is to create brain fitness training that creates a meaningful difference in people’s everyday lives and real world activities. Dr. Mike Merzenich and colleagues have been studying the effects of brain training for more than 30 years and have developed effective, non-invasive tools that engage the brain’s natural plasticity to improve brain health. What’s more: these tools have been independently proven to work.
Based on independent academic data from institutions like the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and USC (with many studies funded by the NIH), it’s abundantly clear and scientifically proven that certain specific cognitive training programs do drive generalized cognitive gains, and that ordinary cognitive stimulation does not. You can read about some of the published studies here– including the IMPACT Study, the largest controlled clinical trial of a brain fitness program to date.
In my view, Nature should have asked the BBC to look more broadly at the existing research to ensure consumers got a full view of the effective tools that do exist to improve brain performance. The BBC brain training may not work, but we know that Posit Science brain training does, and we have the studies to prove it.