Episode 128: Do Brain Training Games Work?

You’ve probably heard about these Brain Training games. While there is some evidence that such games can have positive effects (Brain training for babies actually works (short term, at least), do they really help you to keep your mind sharp? Will they prevent cognitive decline as you get older or will they slow the effects of alzheimer’s disease? In this episode I review some recent studies on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of these popular games.

Brain Games Research

  • A nice review of the brain training research can be found in this excellent book, "The Invisible Gorilla"
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  • Owen, A.M., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J.A., Stenton, R., Dajani, S. Burns, A. S., Howard and Ballard, C.G (2010). Putting brain training to the test, Nature, 465, 775-779.
  • In Defense of Working Memory Training
  • Colcombe, S. and Kramer, A.F. (2003). Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults. Psychological Science, 14(2), 125-130.
  • Debunking 10 Brain Fitness and Brain Training Myths during Brain Awareness Week 2013
  • Papp, K.V., Walsh, S.J. and Snyder, P.J. (2009). Immediate and delayed effects of cognitive interventions in healthy elderly: A review of current literature and future directions. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 5, 50-60.

  • Willis, S.L., Tennstedt, S.L., Marsiske, M. Ball, K., Elias, F., Koepke, K.M., Morris, J.N., Rebok, G.W., Unverzagt, F.W., Stoddard, A.M., and Wright, W. (2006). Long-term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 296 (23).
  • Smith, G.E., Housen, P., Yaffe, K., Ruff, R., Kennison, R.F., Mahncke, H.W. and Zelinski, E.M. (2009). A cognitive training program based on principles of brain plasticity: Results from the improvement in memory with Plasticity-based adaptive cognitive training (IMPACT) Study. The American Geriatrics Society.
  • For a different perspective, read this article by CogMed a company that makes brain training tools. You’ll see how they critique the Owen, et. al study (above). Putting “brain training” to the test – and about time. They recommend that you read the research that they have conducted. If you do so, do you think their research is more convincing that those cited above?

Episode 121: Top 10 Psychology Apps for the iPad, iPhone, & iPod


I show you 10 of what I consider to be the best psychology apps in the app store. There are a lot of psychology apps and many are not so good, but in this episode I pick out what I consider to be credible therapy apps, excellent mind mapping tools, relaxation apps, and some of the best 3 dimensional ways to look at the brain.

Here are three apps created, maintained and constantly updated by me – Michael A. Britt, Ph.D.: