Brain-training games may not make you smarter

If you've spent some time using computer games and websites to become smarter, well, you may be out of luck. A new study published by the journal Nature finds that computer brain games may not offer as big of a boost mentally as once thought.

Scientists from England's Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit conducted the study in conjunction with the BBC. The study, which is the larger-ever trial of computer-based brain training, involved more than 11,430 people from the across the U.K. The participants were given computer-based tasks to complete on the BBC's website that were designed to improve brain functions like memory and reasoning. Each person's brain function was measured before and after the experiment.

From the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit website:

The results showed no evidence that the benefits of playing brain training games transfer to other mental skills. People who completed computer-based training exercises did improve at the games, but these improvements were simply due to practice and were no help to them on tasks on which they had not trained, even when they tapped into similar areas of the brain as those used during training.

You can play the games, or see results of the brain-training experiment here. To see a PDF of the study in Nature, click here.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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