Does brain jogging really help the brain?Crossword puzzles, Sudokus, brain jogging exercises on paper, as an app or videogame, they all promise us a better memory, more concentration or more intelligence, in any case a positive effect on our mental performance. But is this true? Does brain jogging really help?
What types of brain jogging are there??
Not only seniors complain about poor memory, but also schoolchildren and students would like to train their memory and, for example, improve their retentiveness with memory exercises. But is that possible? Are memory training exercises really effective??
First, let's look at what types of memory jogging there are. Among the most common and usual methods of exercising memory are: Sudokus, crossword puzzles and similar puzzles, as well as video games, apps and other board and card games such as chess and memory, and of course many online training programs.
Whether such cognitive training helps improve memory is a matter of debate among scientists. The study results are confusing. Some of them are contradictory. A meta-study in the journal Developmental Psychology states that training with certain memory games has temporary positive effects on memory, but that this only applies to the one type of game practiced, not to memory as a whole.
What does science say
The studies are unclear and contradictory. There is no serious scientific study that proves that Sudoku puzzles, crossword puzzles or brain training exercises such as "click on all the green squares" are effective would have any positive effects on the cognitive abilities of our brain. Numerous studies cannot prove any effect. On the contrary, there are about 150 studies worldwide that do not show any noticeable effects of brain jogging exercises on the performance of the brain in everyday life. Most find at most a very limited effect with the particular exercise studied, i.e. z.B. finding green squares. The reason for this may lie in the nature of the tasks: Sudoku, crossword puzzles and most brain training tasks target very specific cognitive skills, which does not affect thinking in general, planning or problem solving, all the skills that really matter in everyday life.
A study on 3.000 seniors yields astonishing results
An extensive study by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on nearly 3.000 healthy men and women over 65. Subjects participated in a five-week course of two hours of training per week, led by a professional trainer, to train either memory, problem-solving skills or perceptual speed (there was also a control group with no training). The result: After the course, 87 percent of the participants in the group "Speed of comprehension" showed improved cognitive abilities cognitive abilities, as did 74 percent in the "problem-solving ability" group and 26 percent in the group for "memory training". Surprisingly, these significantly sharpened abilities in mental perception and problem solving were retained for ten years after the training, with only the memory effect diminishing.
Numerous studies cannot prove any effect
That sounds impressive, but there are about 150 studies worldwide that show no noticeable effect of brain jogging exercises on the performance of the brain in everyday tasks. Most find at most a very limited effect on the particular task practiced, z.B. Finding blue triangles. The difference probably lies in the nature of the tasks. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku and most brain jogging exercises "only target very limited cognitive skills, but that doesn't affect thinking in general, problem solving or planning, all the complex skills that really matter in the real world," explains Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, director of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas. The scientifically sophisticated exercises under the guidance of a trained coach in the study described above may be an exception to this rule. Or to put it another way: Brain jogging usually only improves brain jogging. While it does no harm and may even be fun, it doesn't really do any good in everyday life.
Is the effect of memory games age-dependent?
According to this study, however, it is also necessary to take into account the age of the test subjects. Children under the age of 10 showed significantly greater success in memory training than adolescents (11 to 18 years). Unfortunately, the researchers did not investigate the effect of memory exercises on seniors (i.e. people over 60 years of age). There are many indications that the above-mentioned memory exercises and memory games are not the "egg of Columbus" are to train the memory. The strongest and most lasting effect on improved memory seems to be those activities that affect the "person as a whole demand, such as Asian martial arts, yoga, or learning to play a musical instrument. Evidence also shows that certain substances and foods have a positive effect on memory and other brain cognitive performance. BrainEffect rapid contains, for example, active ingredients (such as ginkgo, guarana, ginseng and green tea) that can boost cognitive performance and memory.
Two things really help the brain: exercise and the right diet
But research shows again and again that two things actually help keep the brain fit for the demands of everyday life, or get it back on track: regular exercise and the right diet. Whether it's jogging, walking, hiking or cycling, if you specifically stimulate your cardiovascular system, you're also doing your brain some good. It is better supplied with blood and optimally supplied with all the nutrients that are important for its function. At least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is recommended by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and it should be done in such a way that you work up a sweat.
Another key to a fit brain is a balanced and well-balanced diet. We've already covered which foods are particularly valuable for the brain in the earlier post "10 foods for more brain power described. However, if our diet is unbalanced or if we have a higher short-term need for certain nutrients – for example, due to increased physical or mental stress – then nutritional supplements can help to compensate for this. For mental health and cognitive performance, for example, the products from the BrainEffect range are ideal, which are specially adapted to the requirements of our brain.
Conclusion on brain training
So the bottom line remains: brain training only improves the skills being trained. It doesn't do any harm, and it might even be fun, but it's not much use for the demands the brain faces in work and everyday life.
Rebok, G.W. et al.Ten-Year Effects of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Cognitive Training Trial on Cognition and Everyday Functioning in Older Adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 62:16-24, 2014. University of Melbourne:To Train the Brain, or Not to Train the Brain? Carly Weeks: Are the promises of 'brain game' gains too good to be true??