Researchers at the George Mason University found out that people who use brain training programs aren't actually getting the great results they think they are getting. In fact, the whole thing might just be the placebo effect.
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To complete the study, they used two posters with different advertising messages to attract the participants. The posters both led to the same study and the same activities. One was marketed as brain training and cognitive enhancement. The other used the same "brain training" program but only advertised it as a study to get credit for participation.
In total, fifty recruits were accepted. Twenty-five were brought in because of the "cognitive enhancement" (placebo group) and the other 25 responded to the credit promise flyer.
All of the participants took a standardized test to measure their intelligence. They were then given an hour to play a brain training game. At the end,they were given another test to see if there were any changes, according to Futurism.
The results showed that the placebo group scored 5 to 10 IQ points higher than they did on the first test. The control group didn't have a change.
This shows that the expectations set forth by the posters could have been responsible for the rise in IQ points, and not in the games.
Video games have been shown to train parts of the brain, especially when used as an education tool. However, these "brain training programs" that people pay a lot of money for might not be as great as once thought. Just earlier this year, Luminosity, a brain training app, had to shell out $2 million for a fine for false advertising.
"Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease," says Jessica Rich, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to Ars Technica. "Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads."
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At least until these companies are able to come up with some sort of scientific evidence to back up their claims, they will need to lay off on the advertising.