Penn Medicine News reported on a recent study by University of Pennsylvania researchers published in the Journal of Neuroscience that found that commercial brain training programs do not improve decision making or cognitive function.
The study, co-led by Baird Term Associate Professor Joseph Kable and John H. Glick Professor Caryn Lerman, involved two groups of 64 healthy young adults, the Penn Medicine article said. One group followed the Lumosity brain training program for 30 minutes per day, five days a week, for 10 weeks. The second group played online video games on the same schedule.
“Our motivation was that there are enough hints in the literature that cognitive training deserved a real, rigorous, full-scale test,” Kable said in the article. “Especially given the addiction angle, we're looking for things that will help people make the changes in their lives that they want to make, one of which is being more future-oriented.”
All of the participants were assessed by researchers before and after the daily regimes. Participants were asked to choose between rewards, small now or large later, to assess impulsive decision-making. Risky decision-making was tested by choices between small rewards with a high chance of success or a larger reward with a low chance of success. The study found that there was no difference in impulsive decision- and risky decision-making, the article said.
Cognitive tests completed outside of the training showed improvements in both groups, however, a control group that did not participate in either training showed the same results.
“I think we'd all like to have better cognitive abilities,” Kable said in the article. “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.”