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Although studies on the impact of brain training have had mixed results, this one adds to mounting evidence that many who use the programs get better at the tests themselves, but not much else.
The study, which was co-led by Joseph Kable, a Penn neuroscientist, was published Monday in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Some studies have also found those qualities also affect the likelihood of relapse after abstaining from an addiction.
The study found “no evidence” that brain training altered neural activity during decision-making or that it affected choices involving risk and delayed reward.
People using Lumosity did get better at its specific tasks, but they were no better on standardized cognitive tests than those who played computer games.
Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton, a neuropsychologist who directs the Penn Memory Center’s cognitive fitness programs, said that in the past, she included the Brain HQ training program in classes for people with mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor to dementia.
She thinks it has better scientific support than Lumosity.
Lerman and her team will now study whether adding electrical or magnetic brain stimulation to the mix leads to better results.