Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Do Brain Workouts Work? Science Isn’t Sure

For a $14.95 monthly membership, the website Lumosity promises to “train” your brain with games designed to stave off mental decline. Users view a quick succession of bird images and numbers to test attention span, for instance, or match increasingly complex tile patterns to challenge memory.
Wired Well
Personal technology for health and fitness.
While Lumosity is perhaps the best known of the brain-game websites, with 50 million subscribers in 180 countries, the cognitive training business is booming. Happy Neuron of Mountain View, Calif., promises “brain fitness for life.” Cogmed, owned by the British education company Pearson, says its training program will give students “improved attention and capacity for learning.” The Israeli firm Neuronix is developing a brain stimulation and cognitive training program that the company calls a “new hope forAlzheimer’s disease.”
And last month, in a move that could significantly improve the financial prospects for brain-game developers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began seeking comments on a proposal that would, in some cases, reimburse the cost of “memory fitness activities.”
The problem, Dr. Doraiswamy added, is that the science of cognitive training has not kept up with the hype.
“Almost all the marketing claims made by all the companies go beyond the data,” he said. “We need large national studies before you can conclude that it’s ready for prime time.”

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