There are some apps on our phone that we have just for fun, like our fav games. Then we have some that are for more practical things, like tracking our period or helping us stay organized. And, of course, all the dating apps. Then, finally, we’ve got our health apps, including a few “brain-training” programs to make us sharper, smarter and improve our memory… right?
If you’ve been diligently following your Luminosity training every day, and yet you still don’t feel like a genius, the problem isn’t you. A new study found that there’s no scientific evidence that brain game apps actually make your brain stronger.
“It would be really nice if you could play some games and have it radically change your cognitive abilities. But the studies don’t show that on objectively measured real-world outcomes,” one of the authors, Daniel Simon, told NPR.
The study was prompted by a strong disagreement between members of the scientific community over whether or not brain-training apps are actually effective or totally bunk. To try to settle the debate once and for all, researchers evaluated over 130 studies of various games and other cognitive training programs.
What they found was that most of the studies weren’t even legit (they lacked control groups, or didn’t account for placebo effects). The studies that were up to scientific standards did prove that brain training games can help you get better at specific tasks, but there wasn’t a lot of evidence that the skills boost would transfer to similar, related tasks, or lead to overall better memory or thinking. In other words, if you’re playing a game that makes you say, scan quickly for a gopher running across a scene, you’ll get better at spotting the gopher the more you do it; but then if you suddenly have to start spotting rabbits, your gopher-finding skills won’t necessarily apply.
Some psychologists remain optimistic that with the right combination of programming and repeated practice over long periods, future apps could accomplish what they’re designed to do. But until then, you can probably delete the apps and free up some storage space on your phone. Instead, the best things to do for your brain are to get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet of brainpower-boosting foods (like nuts, fish and lots of veggies) and keep learning new skills. (And our DIY tutorials and classes can help with that last one, of course!)
What do you do to keep your brain active and strong? Tweet us your tips @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)