Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Evaluation of brain training programs.

By now there is a consensus that most claims about brain training making improving mental agility have no scientific basis. Most brain training only makes you better at the exercises themselves, and doesn't carry those gains over to your real-world concentration, productivity, or mental acuity. An article by Grothaus suggests that a single exception may be BrainHQ and Cognifit exercises that focus on improving visual processing speed. I've done the BrainHQ 'double decision' exercise, in which
You see an image in the center of your vision–for example, either a car or a truck–and at the same time, you see another image way off in your peripheral vision. The images are only on the screen for a brief period of time–well under a second. You then have to say whether you saw the car or the truck in the center of your vision, and then you have to show where you saw the image in your peripheral vision. This challenges the speed and the accuracy of your visual system. And as you get faster and more accurate, the speed increases and the peripheral vision task gets more demanding–pushing your brain further.
I have noticed that doing this exercise for about 10 min a day over a period of days enhances my attention to and awareness of peripheral visual details while I am driving. The effect wears off if the exercises are stopped.

Grothaus ends his article with the usual advice to those who aren't inclined towards computer games: engage novelty, be physically active, eat right, etc.

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