Brain Games: What really works?


Published on

Earlier this year, researchers behind a study in Archives of Neurology say they had a found a link between “brain-stimulating activities” and levels of protein thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Showcased in the presentation are the results of two previous studies that seem to indicate an increase in cognitive processing as well. The following presentation walks the learner through a better understanding of the physical systems in the brain that are most affected by learning. Associated with each system is a glimpse of the games that were developed by educational game developers to stimulate brain activity. Towards the end of the presentation, there is a surprise twist! It turns out that there may be a more effective and even simpler way to increase cognitive processing. Can you guess what it is?

For fun, try out a few games for yourself at:

You can also visit my learning blog at:

Archives of Neurology reference:

  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Today we will be exploring the topic Brain Games. We will take a closer look at what they are and explore the systems they claim to exercise and whether they work.
  • Brain games are a series of mental exercises designed to improve cognitive functioning.
  • Brain Games are a multi-million dollar industry and endorsed by many leading neuro-scientists.As consumers grasp for packaged solutions & medication alternatives to slow down Dementia & Alzheimer's, game makers theorize that that we can strengthen neural connections by engaging in activities that stimulate brain systems. Parents of ADHD are also big consumers of Brain Games in hopes to increase cognitive potential in learning.
  • Neuroplasticity research, the core idea surrounding brain games, refers to the susceptibility of neural processes due to changes in behavior. Brain neurons have the tendency to rewire themselves to accommodate changes in the environment and to what extent these changes effect brain processes is still hotlydebated.
  • Like a gym workout, we exercises specific muscles. We bench press forpectorals, do squats for our quadriceps. And naturally, smaller support muscles also play a role. The brain is more complicated, so a visual perception/physical map was created to emphasize some of the specific processing systems highlighted during brain game exercises. Lets look at some of the major mental muscles exercised.
  • High profile systems such as memory, processing speed, attention, logic and multi-tasking are at the center of game design.
  • When our brain uses logic to calculate and deduct reasoning MRI’s indicate that the cerebral and parietal lobes play an active role.
  • Luminosity was selected for this demonstration as the games fall into line with the research studies that will be shown later in the presentation. A free account can be set up if you are interested in trying the games at luminosity. Logic Raindrops uses mental math and reasoning exercises to enhance cognitive plasticity exercises.
  • The attention systemis relatively sophisticated. It incorporates several brain muscles to function properly.
  • Sustaining attention is a high interest in ADHD studies. Some games use brain waves to optimize attention span. Interestingly, Lost in migration trains learners to pay attention to small details, they might normally overlook.
  • When memory is activated during an MRI, the sides & brain stem light up. These are affiliated with the temporal lobes and amygdala. Alzheimer's and schizophrenia patients have a noted deterioration in the temporal lobes near the auditory cortex. Sadly, the deterioration location may explain why victims often complain of hearing voices in their head.
  • Memory matrix is a short term memory game. It creates a snapshot of a square placement in a grid. The learner remembers where it was placed. The game was designed to intuitively adjusts grid size according to individual levels of readiness.
  • Multi-tasking is unique in that it receives and sorts information. The working memory shifts between tasks and filters distracters through the cerebral cortex.
  • Although studies on the effectiveness of brain games on multi-tasking are few and far between, Word bubbles are a challenging and fun way to exercise our multi-tasking processing system.
  • Processing speed is perhaps one of the most fascinating systems to study since it seems to stem from our corpus callosum. Our brain processing system acts like high speed cable wires and effects the rate at which we retrieve information.
  • Speed match game is another free game by luminosity. It systematically workson information retrieval speeds and clocks how fast it takes to match symbols.
  • In general, little research on the effectiveness of brain games exercises have been done to date. The IMPACT Study in 2009 showed promising results. The Impact Study was a cognitive training program based on the principles of brain plasticity . The results indicated that our brains are more flexible then previously believed.
  • 487 Seniors from retirement homes in California and Minnesota participated in a the IMPACT Study. The double blind study investigated efficacy of a computerized cognitive training program 1 hour per day, 5 days per weekfor a total of 8 weeks.
  • The results showed improvement in processing speed, attention and memory. Information was processed more quicklythen control group.
  • Auditory memory & attention appeared to signify improvement over the control group.
  • The memory training study used word lists to recall digits backwards. Improvements were indicted after administering letters and number sequencing exercises.
  • In 2002, the ACTIVE study published a single-blind trial of 2832 seniors. The clinical study spanned four years and measured cognitive training interventions. The desired findings might improve daily mental abilities in older adults.Participants were randomly assigned training for memory, reasoning, processing speed or a control group. The training wasclassroom based and spanned over 10-sessions.
  • 87percent demonstrated improvement in processing speed after training.
  • 75 percent of seniors demonstrated improvement in reasoning.
  • Most experts argue that brain games evidence have mixed results. In general, a slight increase in cognitive functioning was attributed to the game exercises. Several other studies have indicated that the key to truly improving and extending our cognitive functioning is regular physical exercise. A University of Illinois study indicated fast daily walks help increase our brain size by 3%. The Meta-analysis of several studies indicated that average individual can increase cognitive processing 25% with exercise as compared to a 10% increase in brain games alone.
  • Brain Games: What really works?

    1. 1. advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspotBRAIN GAMES
    2. 2. Brain games are a series of mental exercises designed to improve cognitive functioning.Exercise Your Brain With Brain Games
    3. 3. Brain Games area multi-milliondollar industry
    4. 4. PLASTICITY
    5. 5. advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspotBrain Games exercise cognitive systems
    6. 6. LogicAttention Multi-taskingMemory Speed advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspot
    7. 7. Cerebral Parietal LOGIC advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspot
    8. 8.
    9. 9. Cerebral Parietal Basal Ganglia Cingulate Gyrus ATTENTION advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspot
    10. 10. ATTENTION
    11. 11. Temporal Amygdala MEMORY advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspot
    12. 12. MEMORY
    13. 13. Cerebral Occipital Auditory Cortex MULTI-TASKING advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspot
    14. 14.
    15. 15. CorpusCallosum PROCESSING SPEED advancedcognitivepsychology.blogspot
    16. 16. PROCESSING
    17. 17. So, ummm. . . Does it really work? Results of Brain Games Studies
    18. 18. Next!
    19. 19. CONTROL GROUP Lower score means faster speed BRAIN TRAINED GROUP Pre-test IMPACTStudy,2009 Post-Test Microsoft clipart 2010 0 50 100 150 200 250 PROCESSING SPEED
    20. 20. 999897969594 Jesseliebman.com93 IMPACT Study, 2009 Brain Trained Control GroupATTENTION TRAINING RESULTS
    21. 21. MEMORY TRAINING103 extension.missouri.edu1021011009998 9796 IMPACTStudy,2009 Brain Trained Control Group
    22. 22. Next!
    23. 23. PROCESSING SPEED 13% Improvement 87% No Improvement ACTIVEStudy,2002
    24. 24. REASONING talkincblog.com3 of every 4 seniors improved in reasoning ACTIVEStudy,2002
    25. 25. PHYSICAL EXERCISE VS BRAIN TRAINING Aerobic based physical exercise can better increase brain power then brain training alone! 60% 75% Brain Trained Exercise Alone Average 25% 50% 75%
    26. 26. WORKS CITEDBlakeslee, Sandra. "2 Distinct Circuits in the Brain Believed Involved in Doing Math / One for Exact Calculations, One for Rough Estimates - SFGate." Featured Articles From The SFGate. 12 May 1999. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>."Brain Map." Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Guide. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>. Cogmed Working Memory Training. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.“Brain Map” Media Image; Google Images 2010 Http://“Bored at Work” Photograph. Google Images 2010 Http://, Mark. ""Changing Brains" Animations." UofO Lewis Center for Neuroimaging. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. < Attention_ROI_animation>.DRM, Langers. "Interactions between Auditory and Affective Brain Areas." Rijksuniversiteit Groningen: Werken Aan De Grenzen Van Het Weten. NeuroImage 2007; 35: 709-18, 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.“Elderly People on Computer” Photograph. Google Images 2010"FAQs." Maine Neurotherapy Center EEG Neurofeedback. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.Healy, By Melissa, and Bruce Bower. "Self Serve Brains." Advancements in Meta Psychology. Advanced Cognitive Psychology, 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.."Jeff Orchard: His Brain." David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science | University of Waterloo. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>. Other., To Each. "The Science Behind ADD ADHD | ADD ADHD Treatment Center." Dallas ADHD -Children and Adult Treatment Center of Dallas, Plano and Surrounding Areas. 10 Jan. 2009. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.Karlene Ball, PhD; Daniel B. Berch, PhD; Karin F. Helmers, PhD; Jared B. Jobe, PhD; Mary D. Leveck, PhD; Michael Marsiske, PhD; John N. Morris, PhD; George W. Rebok, PhD; David M. Smith, MD; Sharon L. Tennstedt, PhD; Frederick W. Unverzagt, PhD; Sherry L. Willis, PhD; for the ACTIVE Study Group; Effects of Cognitive Training Interventions With Older Adults; A Randomized Controlled Trial JAMA. 2002;288:2271-2281.“Old Man Thoughts” Photograph. Google Images 2010 Beach Florida Alternative Neurofeedback Treatment - ADHD, Depression, Anxiety. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.Rules, By The. "Brain Games - Lumosity." Brain Games & Brain Training - Lumosity. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.Smith, Glenn E.; Housen, Patricia; Yaffe, Kristine; Ruff, Ronald; Kennison, Robert F.; Mahncke, Henry W.; Zelinski, Elizabeth M. “A Cognitive Training Program Based on Principles of Brain Plasticity: Results from the Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training (IMPACT) Study”. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Apr2009, Vol. 57 Issue 4, p594-603, 10p, 1 Diagram, 3 Charts, 1 Graph; DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.02167.x Database: Sociological Collection