Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Brain Training is a Complete Waste of Time #Science #Neurology #Medicine

Brain activity during decision making.

Credit: Penn Medicine

During the last decade, commercial brain-training programs have risen in popularity, offering people the hope of improving their cognitive abilities through the routine performance of various "brain games" that tap cognitive functions such as memory, attention and cognitive flexibility.

But a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania found that, not only did commercial brain training with Lumosity™ have no effect on decision-making, it also had no effect on cognitive function beyond practice effects on the training tasks.

The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Science Daily:  Brain training has no effect on decision-making or cognitive function, researchers report

What do you know as it's another round of Hipster Hogwash for the New Age.

Seeking evidence for an intervention that could reduce the likelihood that people will engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or overeating, a team of researchers at Penn, co-led by Joseph Kable, PhD, the Baird Term associate professor in the department of Psychology in the School of Arts & Sciences, and Caryn Lerman, PhD, the vice dean for Strategic Initiatives and the John H. Glick professor in Cancer Research in the Perelman School of Medicine, examined whether, through the claimed beneficial effect on cognitive function, commercial brain training regimes could reduce individuals' propensity to make risky or impulsive choices.

Lerman's prior work had shown that engagement of brain circuits involved in self-control predicts whether people can refrain from smoking. This work provided the foundation for examining whether modulating these circuits through brain training could lead to behavior change.

- SD

There's the science goal and that looks straight-up so the only Rockhouse question is what happened.

The researchers had two assessments of decision-making that participants completed before and after the training regimen. To assess impulsive decision-making, the participants were asked to choose between smaller rewards now and larger rewards later. To assess risky decision-making, they were asked to choose between larger rewards at a lower probability versus smaller rewards at a higher probability.

The researchers found that the training didn't induce any changes in brain activity or decision-making during these tasks.

- SD

Splatto for brain training.

Although, in this study, the researchers found that commercial cognitive training alone would not have an influence on one's decision-making process or cognitive abilities, they believe that it was still an avenue worthy of rigorous investigation.

"I think we'd all like to have better cognitive abilities," Kable said. "And we all see ways in which the vagaries of where we grew up and what school we went to and who our parents were had these effects on learning at an early age. The notion that you could do something now that would remediate it was very exciting. I think it was just an idea that really needed to be tested."

- SD

They're generous since it looks like inadequate science and testing pushed these brain training ideas to market prematurely but there's still serious science which is interested in further reviewing potential benefits of any kind.

ADDERALL is another of the Great Hipster Hoaxes since it promises to improve brain function but it doesn't do anything of the kind; it's just a hybrid form of speed.  It won't make kids any smarter but it will make them feel more clever about being stupid.  More on that another time if I'm absolutely stymied for any other material.

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