Brain training aims to enhance cognitive function through repetitive practice, and is analogous to enhancing physical strength or fitness through exercise. It is often administered through the regular use of computerised tests. This has commercial appeal to both consumers and healthcare practitioners, and while programs such as Lumosity have developed into a lucrative industry, claims concerning the impact and duration of such brain training largely unsubstantiated. As a result, this has become an area of research for universities with research programs like the Yale Child Study Center, and in turn has attracted investment in the form of National Institutes of Health research grants.
The central question is not whether performance on cognitive tests can be improved by training, but rather, whether those benefits transfer to other untrained tasks or lead to any general improvement in the level of cognitive functioning. Studies have shown that although improvements are observed in specific cognitive tasks that were trained, no evidence was found for transfer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cognitively closely related.
- Rabipour, Sheida; Amir Raz (July 2012). "Training the brain: fact and fad in cognitive and behavioural remediation". Brain and Cognition 79 (2).
- Owen, Adrian; et al (June 2010). "Putting brain training to the test". Nature 465: 775–779. doi:10.1038/nature09042. PMC 2884087. PMID 20407435.