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Computerized Brain Training

            The common belief that regular use of computerized brain training tasks improves cognitive function lacks empirical evidence. Based on this belief the BBC TV program "Bang Goes the Theory" took part in a six week online study. 11,430 applicants chosen were required to do a prior assessment before being allocated into groups. This prior assessment involved four tests that were vulnerable to changes in cognitive function in health and diseases. The tests measured, reasoning, verbal short term memory (VTSM), spatial working memory (SWM) and paired associates learning (PAL). Based on the applicant's scores they were then randomly allocated to one of three groups, the first two groups being experimental and the third being the control group. The applicants then went to practise brain training tasks online for at least ten minutes per day, three times a week for six weeks.
             Group one had six training tasks, which emphasised reasoning ability, planning and problem solving. Group two had a large variety of cognitive functioning tasks testing short term memory (STM), attention, visuospatial processing and mathematical ability. Group three didn't practice any specific cognitive tasks throughout the six weeks; however they did answer abstract questions from six categories via the internet. Problems in the tasks arose in group one and two as the applicants constantly challenged their own cognitive performances. .
             At the end of the six weeks, the scores of the four tests prior to the assessment were compared to the scores they had at the end when they re-took the four tests. The results concluded, group one improved on all tests, group two improved on three of them, however the control group also improved on all four tests. .
             Adrian M. Owen et al. (2010) concluded that in all three groups, the results provided no clear evidence to support the belief that regular use of computer programs using brain training tasks, improves overall cognitive function in healthy participants, beyond the tasks that were actually provided.

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