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Research to determine effectiveness of brain-training games

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Curtin University researchers are seeking participants across Australia for a study examining the effectiveness of on-line computer brain training games designed to improve cognitive function through regular use.

The Great Australian Brain-Training Challenge is a research project being carried out by Curtin’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology.

Dr Frank Baughman, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology Lecturer and lead researcher in the project, said brain-training games make up a multi-million dollar industry internationally. Curtin’s research will investigate whether they really work to make people smarter and who they benefit the most.

“By comparing the performance of a large number of individuals on measures of intelligence and cognitive functioning, before and after training, we can determine whether brain-training games really do improve intelligence more generally, or whether they work in more specific ways,” Dr Baughman said.

“Another important aim of this project is to look at specific groups and determine whether it is possible that brain-training programs might work for some people more than others. If so, the question is who the games would work for? Would the brain training assist the elderly, students, children or those with brain injuries or neurological disorders?

“There are many different products available to buy and they usually include problem solving, reasoning, attention and memory games. The games we have designed for the study are similar to the ones used in other brain training programs and commercially sold.

“Our overarching aim is to better understand how the mind works, and under what circumstances we can intervene to influence long-lasting, real, beneficial effects.”

The Curtin research will build upon a similar study from the United Kingdom which found no evidence that the games increases intelligence. These results directly challenge claims made by various commercial groups who have developed products aimed at improving intelligence. The study is set up to address a number of theoretical issues around intelligence and how cognitive skills relate to each other.

Curtin University researchers are seeking participants from around Australia who are willing to play online games for around 30 minutes, three times a week for six weeks.

Participants must be aged eight years and above, and can be part of the same family. At the end of the program, participants will find out just how much they have improved.

For more details on how you can be involved, please visit the Brain-Training website.

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