Does Brain Training Work?

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Yes and no, depends on how we define brain training and depends on how we define work. So, the way we understand the opportunity is brain training is anything that is targeted, and the metaphor is physical fitness. So, if I say, does abdominal training work? Well, yes or no? If you measure it by, does it improve your biceps? The answer is no.

If you say how much does it improve your abdominals and maybe how it makes you become a better sports player in some sports that requires abdominals, the answer is yes. So brain training, there are four methodologies when we analyse all the evidence that seem to work. One is meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, but there's other forms.

Two is cognitive behavioural therapy, third is biofeedback, some techniques that used to be very expensive, but now some consumer devices at $100, $150 and people kind of start to use them themselves. The fourth is cognitive training, that is very important especially for both for younger kids and for older adults.

So if we understand that new tool kit the challenge is what scenarios of use, which populations can benefit from each of these four techniques, and when? So if we understand, if people get empowered to understand what to look for and to have realistic expectations about what the benefits may look like, I will say that brain training is extremely promising, and the decision to really change not only brain health, but also mental health and in fact Thomas Insel, the director of NIMH has been very vocal in saying, Hey, we need a completely new model.

The DSM doesn't make sense even as a diagnostic or the whole mental health interventions. So, I think brain training well understood, well articulated, well standardize, well validated is what we eat to harness brain capacity ineffective and efficient ways, because it's the natural inference, if the brain is flexible how can we harness that flexibility and again this is very recipient this is only five, ten years old but the evidence is very extremely promising I would say.

The challenge for consumers is how to separate what is promising from what is an absolute joke, what actively misleading claims and of course we live in a mercury society so companies have exaggerated and make claims that make no sense, but we have to help consumers differentiate what is useful from what is not.