Can Playing a Free Computer Game Actually Make You Smarter?

I’ve seen a lot of advertisements lately, both on the net and TV, for brain training products like Lumosity.  Nintendo DS also has a very popular game called Brain Age.  All told, brain training is a billion dollar a year industry, but does it work?   In 2009, BBC Labs UK designed an experiment to answer that question.  Led by Dr. Adrian Owen, a British neuroscientist, they created a number of games that were representative of those on the commercial market and tested them on over 13,000 participants.  Each participant was placed into 1 of 3 groups; the reasoning game group (games involve planning, problem-solving and analysis), the non-reasoning game group (games involve short-term memory, attention to detail, maths and interpreting visual information), and the control group (asked to just use the internet to find the answers to simple questions, like when did Henry the VIII die).  Each group was asked to play for 10 minutes 3 days each week for 6 weeks.   After 6 weeks, what did they find?  They found that the participants got better at the games but they didn’t get any smarter.  Using 4...
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