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'Brain Games' Do Not Make You Smarter
Date:4/20/2010

British study found no evidence that popular computer games helped in any way

TUESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- A team of British researchers reports that popular brain-training computer games do not improve a person's overall cognition.

In fact, the investigation, conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in collaboration with the BBC television network, revealed that these brain games do little to boost the ability to reason, remember, plan or even engage in visual analysis.

The conclusions were presented by lead researcher Adrian Owen, assistant director of the MRC's cognition and brain sciences unit, in a news conference Tuesday and are published in the April 20 online issue of Nature.

"We did find that the training groups got much better on the game tests they actually practiced," MRC research staffer Jessica Grahn said during the news conference. "However, even among the people who trained the most, there was generally no translation to improvement in basic cognitive function."

"We're not saying it's bad for you," added Owen. "If you're doing it because it's fun, that's absolutely fine. If you're doing it to improve your mental function or IQ, that isn't the case. It doesn't make you any smarter overall."

The authors launched their study a year ago, via a popular British science show called Bang Goes The Theory.

From the show's viewer audience, nearly 11,500 healthy adults were recruited to participate in a six-week regimen of online brain-game testing that was facilitated by the BBC's "Lab UK," a Web site designed to enable the general public to participate in online experiments.

Male and female players were between the ages of 18 and 60, and through the completion of basic health questionnaires it was determined that all were free of any cognitive illness.

Participants were first randomly assigned in equal numbers to one
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