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Brain training exercises DON'T prevent dementia

11 Juillet 2017

Previous studies of brain-training programs that adjust the level of difficulty based on the user's performance showed mixed results.

The spokesperson said that Lumos Labs supported the study through providing access to Lumosity for free through the Human Cognition Project, which has also supported studies that have shown positive results.

The benefits of Lumosity have been hotly debated.

The team's results are consistent with the conclusions of a study a year ago that reviewed evidence so far on brain-training games.

In 2016, Lumos Labs was hit with a $2 million fine due to deceptive advertising because their product Lumosity was marketed as cognitive training software that was supposed to help users have better success in school or at work. If it turned out to be true, it could have implications for treating certain health conditions, such as obesity and addiction, which are related to people's decision-making behavior, the researchers said. The new study aimed to examine whether brain training could modify factors like executive function to change how people react in certain situations and ultimately make healthier choices.

A new study by the University of Pennsylvania has revealed that Lumosity, a highly commercialized brain-training program, is no better for improving brain function than video games. There remain many open questions in the field-how, why, and in what circumstances cognitive training is efficacious-and so painting in such broad strokes potentially undermines this important, ongoing research area.

"But this raises the question of whether a brain-training program that only has a small effect on cognition is worth the time and money", says Boot.

The researchers knew that people with stronger cognitive abilities tend to make less impulsive decisions on the kinds of tasks that Kable studies, which involve giving people choices between immediate smaller rewards and delayed larger rewards. In spite of these claims, researchers who conducted the study said it was not clear if the game boosts the functioning of the brain or people just get better at the games because they learn to complete specific tasks, UPI reported. The participants also completed a battery of standard cognitive tests assessing memory, attention and other brain functions.

The investigators found that the training did not produce any significant differences in brain activity and decision-making between the Lumosity group and the control group.

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For 10 weeks, some of the volunteers used Lumosity, while others spent the same amount of time playing typical online video games, such as Love Letter and Elastico.

Researchers analyzed information from 128 young adults who were randomly assigned to play either Lumosity games or computer video games for 10 weeks. In addition, the advertising said using Lumosity had other benefits such as the ability to delay cognitive decline associated with aging.

Another expert explained it this way. "This study seems to confirm that the learning that takes place in these games is very specific to those games".

"I think we'd all like to have better cognitive abilities", study author Joseph Kable of the University of Pennsylvania said in a statement.

If they can better understand the neural basis for those differences, Kable said, it might provide some clues about what kinds of cognitive or neural interventions would be useful to try to intervene and push people to be less or more impulsive. "But they don't improve on other activities for which they don't practice".

The possibility remains that older people with declining mental abilities might receive some benefit from programs like Lumosity, Lerman and Kable added.

They were also tested on their attention, working memory, interference control and cognitive flexibility to see if the program had any effect on more general mental abilities.

The findings were published July 10 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Brain training exercises DON'T prevent dementia