A study by a professor at the University of Rennes in France has concluded that Nintendo’s claims that software like Brain Age and Big Brain Academy can improve your intelligence are “charlatanism.”
Professor of Clinical Psychology Alain Lieury performed a survey on a group of 67 ten-year-olds, who were split into four groups: Two groups took part in a seven-week course with the DS while the third did comparable puzzles with pencil and paper and the last group simply attended school as usual. The children were given tests in logic, mathematics, memorization and interpreting symbols both before and after the seven-week course; children who used the DS as part of the program showed a 19 percent improvement in the math tests, but so did the group doing pencil and paper puzzles, while the group that wasn’t given any special training improved by 18 percent.
Similarly, the “Nintendo children” showed a ten percent improvement in logic tests, a figure matched by the pencil and paper group, while those who had no extra training improved by 20 percent. In memory tests, pencil and paper users improved by 33 percent, but the group who had undergone the DS program actually ended up performing 17 percent worse. Lieury said that helping children with homework, reading, playing Scrabble or Sudoku or even watching documentaries instead of soap operas would have as much or more benefit to mental acuity as using the DS.
The study used ten-year-old children despite the fact that brain training games are typically marketed toward older gamers because, Lieury said, “That’s the age where you have the best chance of improvement. If it doesn’t work on children, it won’t work on adults.” He also took a shot at Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, the Japanese neuroscientist behind the brain training phenomenon on the DS. “There were few positive effects and they were weak,” he said. “Dr Kawashima is one of a long list of dream merchants.”