Brain exercises – all hype? – Wall Street Journal

As a senior citizen, 76 years old as of this writing, I think that the condition of my brain is probably my number one priority. Right there along with the physical condition of my body. Also, regular readers know that I have several cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family on both parents’ sides. So the concept of impaired cognition has my full attention.

I know that most of my contemporaries and younger compatriots are also very sensitive about their mental condition. Everyone experiences ‘senior moments,’ but they are not funny to those of us over 60.


When I attended the ‘Healthy Transitions’ talks at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (for folks over 50), the most well-attended were the lectures on cognitive impairment and dementia. Always a packed house. This is a very hot topic for seniors.For these reasons, I have particular contempt for the snake oil salesmen who try to prey on seniors’ fears of cognitive impairment. These include the drug companies that offer surefire memory boosters and particularly the brain games. I have written a number of posts about the ineffectiveness of these games. You can access them by checking out my Page – Brain games for seniors – What you need to know.

So I was most pleased to run across the article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal “Brain exercises don’t live up to the hype – Researchers say.

I was thrilled to read the article by Sumathi Reddy, “Computerized brain-training exercises and games, touted for their ability to improve overall cognitive function, may actually only help you get better at the specific game you’re playing.”

I used almost the exact same words in my own posts on the ineffectiveness of the games.

“That’s the conclusion of a wide-ranging review of nearly 400 studies of brain training published last week in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. The review found that none of the studies followed scientific best practices for comparing a group of people practicing an intervention against a control group not getting the intervention.

““What we found is that there’s really no compelling evidence that these sorts of interventions lead to objectively measured real-world improvements,” says Daniel Simons, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and first author of the review.”

One of the game purveyors challenged the conclusions of this study, but used non-peer-reviewed information. Also, the benefits were considered to be ‘fairly small’ and ‘flawed’ relying on self reports.

For full details on the studies, you can read the entire Journal article at the link above.



Filed under brain exercise, brain function, brain games, brain health, exercise and brain health

2 responses to “Brain exercises – all hype? – Wall Street Journal

  1. I have an extra special disdain for snake oil salesmen.

    Liked by 1 person

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