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April 21, 2010

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Danny George

Excellent work Mona - thanks for this clear-headed analysis. Brain training is clearly not a bad thing, but I worry about the opportunity costs (ie. what are people *not* spending their time and money on when they play brain train games). As a social scientist, I can't help but wonder whether more interpersonal interventions would be more effective. In Cleveland, we had students from The Intergenerational School play posit science games w/ elders from an assisted living home to try to build in a relational aspect.

Paul Whitby

I would like to make two points about this study.

Firstly, the average age of the participants was about 40 years. This suggests that they may not have, generally, undergone much in the way of age-related cognitive decline let alone developed pathological states. So, if brain-training is rectifying a deficit (as opposed to making a healthy system even healthier, and we don't know what BT is supposed to be doing) then most of these participants had no deficit to rectify, consequently there is little room for improvement in any of the groups.

Secondly, the periods of training were fairly short. Compare their participants' average of 24.5 10 minute sessions (total just over 4 hours) with the 40 hours of training reported in the Smith et al paper (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122189596/abstract if you are interested). This latter paper reported some benefits from their very specific, and expensive, brain training programme. Smith et al also used participants over 65.

This story is not over yet.

Steven Aldrich

As CEO at Posit Science I want to weigh in on the question of evidence supporting the right type of brain training. There are many explanations as to why the BBC experiment did not show improvement – a likely one is that they built games that were not designed correctly. Our team at Posit Science knows how hard it is to create brain fitness training that creates a meaningful difference in the real world.

As Paul mentioned above, the IMPACT study, http://www.scribd.com/doc/17888028/Smith-2009-IMPACT-Study, enrolled nearly 500 people in a randomized, blinded, and controlled experiment. That study used one of our products and showed significant improvements in participants’ memory when measured by a standardized test.

Another long-term study is the 2,800 person ACTIVE study, originally published in the Journal of American Medicine. Ongoing analysis of that research has shown a number of improvements in real-world measures such as depressive symptoms over a five-year period from speed-of-processing training, technology founding two of our products. And investigators have shown that speed-of-processing with UFOV® technology brain training reduced car crash risk and increased the likelihood of continued driving.

There are now over 60 published studies from institutions like the Mayo Clinic and John Hopkins on our technology. And we receive customer stories about improving reaction time on the tennis court, driving with more confidence, learning a language and remembering new friends’ names.

For more information and to try free exercises, please visit www.positscience.com

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