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Brain training may be harmful to some aspects of memory performance

29 November 2016

Much attention has been focused recently on whether brain training programmes have the far-reaching benefits claimed by their commercial purveyors.

Brain training usually involves completing exercises on computer to strengthen your working memory – essentially your ability to hold in mind and process multiple items of information at once (“cognitive training” would be a more apt name).

The argument put forward by brain-training companiesis that working memory is such a fundamental mental process that if you boost your working memory capacity through training, then you will experience wide-ranging benefits, even in ostensibly unrelated activities, such as in your performance at work.

But a comprehensive review published earlier this year concluded that there is in fact inadequate evidence to justify such bold claims. And a new study discussed on our Research Digest blog has even worse news for brain training enthusiasts: compared to control conditions, working memory training was actually found to worsen performance on a test of recognition memory.

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