Two dozen leading experts in the brain recently converged for a daylong meeting at Stanford University. The meeting focused on a review of the current state of research and scientific knowledge related to software products and approaches that aim to defend against age-related cognitive decline. This meeting follows a similar meeting held five years ago which resulted in the 2008 Expert Consensus on Brain Health.
Sponsored by the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, the meeting convened amid “mounting concern” about claims from commercial “brain training” programs.
“We need to be cautious as scientists,” said Ulman Lindenberger, director of the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute. “When you look at the claims of these programs, they are really wildly exaggerated, because they make promises to you not only that you’ll get better on the task that you are training, but that you actually get a new brain so to speak, that cognitive abilities like your memory in general improve by playing these games. And these are claims that are not backed up by scientific evidence.”
It seems that generally most brain training software claims are dubious especially given the limited amount of time users actually employ the software. Similar recent and pessimistic results are also reported for effects of exercise on cognition. However, this does not mean there could not be other benefits of brain training and brain games in terms of overall health, mood and motivation.