Unlike stealth shooters, combats or simulators, computer-based cognitive-training software – or simply brain games – have never been an object of sharp criticism. Usually, they fall into the category of harmless educational games. So seemingly, your parents would be happier if they knew you played Lumosity or Elevator in the evening, and not Counter-Strike. (Fans, sorry for setting it as an example here.)
However, all that glitters is not gold, is it? Although there are no reasons to claim that online brain training via special educational games may have any drawbacks, this still can’t be the only one argument for promoting them as eagerly as some creators and providers do.
Based on this idea, our team decided to find out whether games of this kind really can be helpful for modern students. The developers of such cognitive-training software claim that it improves users’ concentration, reaction, analytical skills, creative thinking, memory, and just whatever users might wish. So, today we are here to check out if you can trust their words. Let’s start!
Indeed, Most Brain Games Are Thought out Very Professionally
Even the most incurable sceptic will have to admit that creators of online brain trainings did put an honest effort into their work. They offer users sets of selected workouts and even give recommendations for the duration of training.
When I personally played Lumosity games (of course, I would never write this post if I’d never played any brain game), I read that 20-30 minutes a day would be absolutely enough to train my cognitive abilities. I played a set of five games. After my planned daily workout finished, I still could continue playing some of the available games. But I didn’t. Frankly speaking, my brain sometimes got really tired after the set training.
Each Lumosity game was developed in close cooperation between scientists and game designers. The results of such teamwork are truly impressive. By creating exciting and complex games, these guys managed to make gamers feel that they do really smart things. Well-functioning software and marvelous graphics only intensify the experience.
Therapeutic Effect Is Not Guaranteed (Even by Developers)
One of the most widespread myths about brain games is that they can prevent or even cure some mental diseases, like Alzheimer’s or dementias. However, brain game developers do point out that it’s not true. And I can understand them.
Just think if creators of Sims could guarantee that after playing this game can help you fight your inner introvert and improve your social skills. I don’t think so. What’s more, Sims started irritating me when I was at high school, so I just quit playing it with my friends. (Again, fans, sorry.)
Whatever, back to topic. No doubt, brain exercises are helpful. They can boost your mental activity, making you react to posed challenges more quickly and find reasonable solutions for them. That’s obviously a good thing, which won’t do you any harm. However, pinning hopes on healing powers of online brain games is rather silly.
These Games Provide Hardly Any Real Benefits Offline
Numerous reputable studies proved that. For example, an article by Max Plank Institute of Human Development and Stanford Center on Longevity reports that regular practicing twelve different computerized cognitive tasks within 100 days resulted in fairly insignificant improvements of participants’ episodic memory and reasoning. The “upgrades” to these abilities were maintained for a little longer than two years.
Looks like if you want to keep this or that cognitive ability at an equally decent level for a longer period of time, you should never stop playing brain games. And I won’t surprise you if I tell you that the unlimited access to Lumosity or whatever costs some money, which you must pay monthly or yearly.
That’s just commerce. And that’s the way it works.
I must admit that after playing Lumosity daily for several weeks, I did feel that my problem-solving skills got sharper, my reaction got quicker, my memory served me better. But I made such conclusions based on my online game results! Not on my offline, real-life experiences. I’d probably call it the placebo effect.
So, as one blogger also noted, even if your brain game scores get higher, it doesn’t mean you won’t forget where you put the other sock.
The Cognitive-Training Software Can’t Replace Other Beneficial Activities
What’s even more important, the effect of brain games is no better than the effects of reading, playing chess or learning a foreign language. Well, there’s still nothing bad in spending 20-30 minutes online, doing some cognitive-training tasks. But you shouldn’t consider that they will help you develop any ability you wish.
As a person who used to play brain games for some time, I dare advise that if you have spare 30 minutes, you’d better go jogging with your college mate or read a book. Although you can choose from a really wide array of games, once you’ll found it limited anyway. You’ll wish to try something new, but there’ll be nothing to satisfy your need.
That’s actually the reason why I stopped playing. And, honestly, I find much more pleasure in my job, as well as in taking some online courses and reading quality fiction. They never bore me and do boost my mental capacities.
A Few Final Words
Clinging to the hope that perfectly developed online brain games can upgrade your cognitive abilities and help with study is rather unreasonable. Although you will see definite improvements of “gaming” skills, they don’t guarantee that in a real-life situation you will react as fast and smartly as in a game.
Online cognitive training is a great entertainment when it’s raining outside and you have nothing to do. But it’s not a universal remedy from lack of concentration or poor memory. A Rubik’s cube is a better thing.