Before you rush out to buy that new Nintendo DS in order to develop your brainpower and increase your thinking age, you might want to consider whether the brain training games live up to the hype.
A recent study has shown that there is no real proof that the brain training games made popular recently by Nintendo and Dr. Kawashima really have any effect at all and those of us who spend hours starring into a tiny screen, forcing our hands into an arthritic state from clamping the pointer too hard could be wasting our time altogether.
Cognitive neuro-scientist at the University of Birmingham, Dr. Jason Braithwaite said; "There is no comprehensive evidence showing that the continued use of these devices is linked to any measurable and general improvements in cognition. anything other than a basic learned process for that specific task. "
This leads me to consider how we might be able to improve our brain power and increase our intelligence. For me it's simple, stick to the same old principals that have helped us over the centuries. Hard work and determination combined with a drive to learn and absorb knowledge at every given opportunity.
Books for a long time have been my staple for learning. I might not always agree with the author, but this only serves to increase my thought process and hopefully help me to see things from an alternative perspective. I often encourage myself to read something that challenges my own thinking and wipes away some of the cobwebs of my mind.
Then of course we have the process of learning from training events, schooling and universities. A lot will say they struggle to learn in these environments. However, it is my belief that when transported out correctly and in keeping with learning needs of all participants, this form of learning can not be beaten.
The trouble with these methods of learning? Well, they're not much fun are they (although I'm challenge that point and encourage you to attend a training event that I put together). Latest developments in E-Learning and the more recent 'serious gaming' (a combination of business simulations and computer generated learning events) show an encouraging step towards something 'sexy' in the training world. However, it is still too early to say whether these methods will eclipse the tested and trusted methods of development. Better I say to incorporate them into a holistic approach to learning and continue to stretch the boundaries of thinking around making learning fun.
You might by now be thinking that I have strayed something from my initial topic of 'brain training', surely I can tell the difference between increasing skills and knowledge and training your brain? Well, I'm afraid I can not. Training your brain is about challenging your thinking, keeping your mind active and learning new ideas.
I suspect the true reason people have welcomed these games with open arms is that they are seen as 'easy' a 'quick fix', a bit like belts that exercise your stomach while you sit and eat cake or essays that you can download from the internet and hand in to your teacher. The trouble with this approach is that it simply does not work. If you want success, you have to put in the time and effort.
Of course all of this is subjective. I do not think there's any harm in these games at all and if it encourages people to learn, then more is the better. I'm sure that brain training games do provide a much needed element of 'thinking time' and combined with the other methods mentioned above must surely encourage your brain to memorize and at least challenge ideas? Well, where there's no harm there's no worry.
Anyways, I'm off for a few challenging rounds of bowling on the Nintendo Wii … Well, you've got to get out now and then have not you?