This kind of story crops up often. But, given the popularity of “brain training games,” it merits repetition: “brain training” doesn’t work.
Of course, school works. We can train our brains to know new things: the history of the Silk Road, pre-calculus, geology, good pottery-wheel technique. We can’t, however, train up working memory or general intelligence in some artificial way.
Here’s the essential summary:
“We hypothesized that if you get really, really good at one [working memory] test by training for a very long time, maybe then you’ll get improvement on tests that are quite similar. Unfortunately, we found no evidence to support that claim,” says Bobby Stojanoski, a research scientist in the Owen Lab at Western’s world renowned Brain and Mind Institute and lead author of the paper. “Despite hours of brain training on that one game, participants were no better at the second game than people who tested on the second game, but hadn’t trained on the first one.”
To be clear: I hope that some day we figure out a brain training technique that works.
If we could increase our students’ working memory capacity, that would — I think — revolutionize human cognition. But, we just don’t know how to do so yet.
Here’s a link to the underlying paper. And here’s a link to more thoughts on brain-training flim flam.