Do Brain Training Games Really Work?

Keeping our brains young and sharp is something we all hope for as we grow older. But what is the best way to do this exactly? Here, we take a look at Brain Training Games and Exergaming as two alternatives.

Brain Training Games

Firstly, what are ‘Brain training games’? They are puzzles and games designed to provide challenges for your brain. Examples include, for instance, sudoku and crosswords. The common belief is that these brain training games are typically beneficial to your cognitive abilities and that they reduce mild cognitive impairment. They are believed to be particularly important for elderly people, as they attempt to keep their minds sharp in order to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Although previous studies have shown some positive correlation between brain training games and cognitive functioning, modern research is beginning to doubt this hypothesis. According to a study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania published in The Journal of Neuroscience, commercial brain games appear to have no effect on cognitive function and decision-making beyond the tasks included in the game. Meaning that instead of improving your brain health, you are simply improving your abilities at a specific game. This can be seen in games such as sudoku or crosswords, where players are merely becoming better at solving these puzzles, rather than improving their overall cognitive functioning.

Having said this, more recent studies have indicated a positive correlation in the relationship between brain health and something known as EXERGAMING. This dual-tasking concept suggests a strong possibility of reducing mild cognitive impairment, which is basically the stage before full blown dementia.

 

Dual-Tasking: Exergaming

Dual-tasking is a rather new concept that is up and coming in the health industry. Generally speaking, dual-tasking refers to an action where two tasks are performed simultaneously. Exergaming is an example of this and it specifically regards to the combination of varying cognitive challenges together with exercise. An example of this would be running on a treadmill whilst concurrently counting down from 100 to 0 but in 4’s. So 100, 96, 92 and so on. This combination has been seen to produce great beneficial impacts to ones brain health.

Click HERE to see what Dr Shawn Watson, Neuroscientist and CEO of Senescense Life Sciences has to say about dual-tasking and exergaming.

Quotes from various studies

  1. “Dual-tasking, performing a cognitive and motor task at the same time, improved cognition better than physical exercise alone.”

    - Eggenberger. 2015.

  2. “Findings indicate that step training reduce falls in older adults by approximately 50%.” - Okubu, Schoene, & Lord 2016.

  3. “Combined cognitive and motor training improves gait stability and reduces fall rate by 80%.” - van Het Reve, De Bruin 2014.

  4. A 2017 study found that dual-tasking can help people with mild cognitive impairment or early stage dementia. This particular study found that dual tasking improved the ability to do activities of daily living, improved mood and reduced depression.   

Try it yourself by gamifying your exercise routines and see if you notice any changes!

Currently, we offer two exergaming products: CyberCycle and HUR Senso

 
 
 

HUR Senso is a dual-tasking fall reduction and cognitive training platform designed to support independent living. The think and move integrated, fun and easy to use equipment simultaneously improves physical and cognitive function through interactive motor training activities and gaming.  The platform sensors dynamically capture all of the vital data with easy to understand results that ensure improved cognitive and activity levels for all users.

CyberCycle riders immerse themselves in stunning interactive roads, from snowy mountains to the seaside shores. Riding the CyberCycle is just like riding outside, minus the helmet and the traffic! It keeps riders feeling sharp, young and independent. Plus it is a ton of fun!

 

What can we take from this?

The scientific evidence behind the cognitive benefits of brain training games is inconclusive as there are a host of reports and studies that contradict one another. More recent studies are beginning to show that brain training games do not improve cognition to the extent that was previously believed. The same cannot be said of exergaming where there is overwhelming evidence that showcases its cognitive benefits. Try it out for yourself!

Carl Richard