February 14, 2017

Brain training works but there are only a few good providers

For some time there has been a debate about the question whether neuroplasticity, the capacity of the brain to keep developing, isn't largely just a hype. In this post I discussed some of the criticisms brought forward. Most of the skeptical remarks against neuroplasticity do not impress me much. Neuroplasticity does exist and knowledge about it is developing rapidly. In this post I mentioned five ways to use neuroplasticity to make and keep your brain fit. As one of these ways I mentioned doing serious brain exercises which you can think of as computer games offering challenging puzzles and problems. Good brain exercises are specifically designed and well researched. I mentioned BrainHQ as an example of a good provider of such exercises.

Recently there has been some discussion about whether it is possible to develop brain functions via brain training software. Several articles were published claiming brain training does not work. But this conclusion seems to be too simple. In recent independent research by Shah et al. (2017) 18 commercial brain training programs were critically assessed. Eleven of these providers did not offer empirical evidence for their programs' efficacy. Of the remaining 7 providers 26 relevant studies were evaluated (read more). 

The largest number and the best of these studies were from Posit Science, the company behind BrainHQ. The driving force behind this companies products is Michael Merzenich, one of the leading pioneers in the field of neuroplasticity. This study shows that effective brain training does exist. It is not true that the evidence for brain training is moderate to bad. Instead, there is much supply which is not supported by evidence. Not any brain training program you'll find on the internet will work. But there are brain training programs which do.

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