Scientific Consensus Statement on Brain Training Games

October 20, 2014  Experts in aging and neurology recently released a scientific consensus statement on brain training games: 

“We object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do. The promise of a magic bullet detracts from the best evidence to date, which is that cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles. In the judgment of our expert group,exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxieties of older adults about impending cognitive decline for commercial purposes. We encourage continued careful research and validation in this field.”

The consensus on the brain training industry from the scientific community: Computer-based “brain-games” claim a growing share of the marketplace in aging societies. Consumers are told that playing the games will make them smarter, more alert, and able to learn faster and better. The implied and often explicit promise is that adherence to prescribed regimens of cognitive exercisewill reduce and potentially reverse creeping cognitive slowing and forgetfulness, improve everyday functioning, and help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. 

 

It is customary for advertising highlight the benefits and overstate potential advantages of their products. In the brain-game market, however, advertisements also assure consumers that  aims and promises are based on solid scientific evidence, as the games are “designed by neuroscientists” at top universities and research centers. These claims are reinforced through paid advertising and distributed  by trusted news sources. Thus, a group of cognitive scientists and neuroscientists felt obliged to issue a direct statement to the public: The strong consensus of this group is that the scientific literature does not support claims that the use of software-based “brain games” alters neural functioning in ways that improve general cognitive performance in everyday life, or prevent cognitive slowing and brain disease. Much more research is needed before a firm conclusion on these issues can be drawn.

 

For more information about views from the scientific community, see the full statement here

Click here for a full list of signatories.