Keeping your brain healthy is a major concern, especially as you age. It’s no surprise then, that so-called “brain training” games and programs are all the rage right now. Who doesn’t want to keep their wits about them as they enter their golden years and beyond, right? Well, new research has shown that there is little evidence to back up the benefits these “brain games” claim to have. So, what is the best way to reap cognitive benefits?
The research, which was led by Neil Charness, a psychology professor at Florida State University, has shown that these “brain training” games offer little real-world benefits to your brain. While you may get more proficient at playing a certain game, that proficiency rarely translates to other areas of cognition. To put it simply, brain games help you get better at playing games, but do precious little for key aspects of cognition, such as working memory.
However, that does not mean you’re up the creek without a paddle when it comes to preserving your brain function. As Charness notes, there are other ways you can boost your working memory and keep your brain in tip-top shape as you get older. While it may seem counter-intuitive, engaging in actual aerobic exercise can provide your brain with many health benefits, including a better working memory.
According to Charness, if you are serious about warding off cognitive decline and boosting your working memory, engaging in physical activity and getting your heart rate up is the best way to go.
As reported, “I wouldn’t come away from our article totally discouraged. It’s another piece of the puzzle that we’re all trying to assemble. It’s discouraging in the sense that we can’t find far transfer and that seems to be a fairly consistent finding in research. But if your real goal is to improve cognitive function and brain games are not helping, then maybe you are better off getting aerobic exercise rather than sitting in front of the computer playing these games,” he said.
Exercise appears to be the most important way to keeping the body–and organs–healthy. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most avoided activities for many people.