You might have heard of companies offering so-called brain training, such as Lumosity and BrainHQ, you might even have tried them yourself.

A lot of these services are nice, and fun, to use since they employ a form of gamification of self-improvement. You play a few games when you are waiting in a que, sitting on a bus, or passing the time at work, with the additional benefit of improving your overall mental abilities. The companies providing these services will not surprisingly highlight all the benefits they claim will come about as a result of paying for, and undertaking, brain training. However, scientific studies assessing evidence of the effectiveness of brain training apps and games have called such claims in to question.

A recent study looking at the effect of a 6-week brain training intervention in healthy young adults, aimed at improving working memory capacity. Compared to a control group that did not complete any brain training, no improvement in the working memory capacity was observed [1]. Similar results have been found previously. In a large study including 11,400 participants some positive effects were found on specific tasks after completing a 6-week online training programme, though the effects did not generalise to either related or unrelated tasks, suggesting that such training does not have positive effects outside of the specific task trained on [2].

Rather than paying for such services, over the next few sessions we will look at methods you can use to improve your memory for free!

Lesson #4 – If you are subscribed to any brain training apps or services, keep going if you enjoy it but try to not to spend unnecessary money on it.

[1] Clark, C.M. et al. (2017). PLos ONE, 12(5)

[2] Owen, A.M. et al. (2010). Nature, 465, 775-778