The Questionability of Brain Training

Abby Patterson, Staff Writer

Advertisements for mind-training websites and software are making appearances across the internet. They appeal to readers by telling them that a healthy mind is a smart mind. But scientists are beginning to wonder if these programs have the ability to benefit the mind at all. One website,, is advertised to “Challenge your brain with games designed by neuroscientists to exercise memory and attention”. Lumosity has been revealed to have over 50 million users by Joe Hardy, the vice president of research and development at Lumosity. Modern-day science is proving that all these users are getting is false confidence about the skill set of this website.

Randall Engle is currently a psychologist at Georgia Tech. “This idea that intelligence can be trained would be a great thing” Engle said. “If it were true” Engle and his group at Georgia Tech attempted to replicate a study originally executed by scientists at the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of Michigan. The original experiment was published in a 2008 edition of the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences and concluded that training on a working memory task for ten hours could improve the ability to solve problems. However, after Engle repeated the experiment, he said that his team “totally failed to replicate the … study”. He later stated that the most likely cause of the unrepeatable results was that the 2008 study lacked the proper controls which his team later corrected. In 2013, Engle’s team discovered that improvements on the complex span tasks’ performances did not increase fluid intelligence, commonly known as problem solving ability.

Engle is not the only scientist to have failed at his experiment. In a 2012 edition of Intelligence, it was proposed that working to improve your memory did not have an effect on the user’s intelligence. Although these studies seem securely accurate, much more research is necessary before a final conclusion is made.