Brain Test Britain – Does Brain Training Really Work?

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Brain Test Britain

Last week I was contacted by Brain Test Britain, the BBC sponsored brain training experiment looking to further document the effects of actively training our brains.

They were looking for some insight as to what it is we do here at Brain Training 101, and what types of people are currently doing some sort of brain training.

If you haven’t heard of Brain Test Britain, you’ll want to check it out. The study is currently open and looking for new participants.

You’ll be asked to register and complete a benchmarking test to give researchers an idea of your brain function starting point. Then you’ll train for ten minutes three times a week. They need you to train for at least six weeks to make your results relevant, but they’d prefer you to continue for up to a year.

Participants must be 18 years of age or older, and you do not need to reside in the U.K.

If you decide to participate, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to know what you think of the study.

Participant Information Page

Frequently Asked Questions

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Erin Matlock About the author, Erin Matlock
Erin Matlock is the CEO of Brain Pages, Inc, a media company specializing in the promotion of brain focused resources and professionals. Along with heading up BRAIN PAGES, the company's brain friendly directory and online community, she serves as Founder and Editor in Chief of BrainTraining101.com and TheBrainChannel.com.

15 Comments On This Post

  1. [...] a Comment Earlier this year, I posted details about the BBC’s study, Brain Test Britain, of over 11,000 people who were asked to do specific brain training exercises for 10 minutes at [...]

    Reply
  2. hi,

    this wedsite it’s so cool ..!
    there is a lot of thing i like on it..!
    So , thank you very much ^^

    also ,i really wants to participate , so what i should to do ..?

    Reply
  3. Thanks Erin for getting back to me. I have just tried to login and it seems fine now. Not sure if it was my computer or not but everything’s ok now. Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. Victoria,

    I just logged in with no issues. Are you still locked out?

    Reply
  5. Hi Erin and Martin

    I have been unable to access the BrainTestBritian Study since yesterday. Do you know of any problems with the website. Details are still online about the study but I cannot login to the training.

    Reply
  6. Hello, Erin, Cathy, Victoria.

    From first seeing the initial publicity about Brain Test Britain I’ve been irritated and disappointed by the use of such vast resources with such a high profile to create such a flawed trial.

    I’ve been forced to conclude that the real purpose of Brain Test Britain is to debunk Nintendo’s claims about its brain training games, rather than to determine whether brain training can make a real difference. (Nintendo has had a lot of success and a good deal of backlash in Britain.)

    The design of the Brain Test Britain training regime ignores previous research about what kind of training approach does in fact lead to measurable cognitive changes. As Cathy points out the training is too lightweight; it’s also too brief and too infrequent.

    So, Brain Test Britain will inevitably satisfy its true objective — it will show that brain training is a waste of time. I suspect that this will please the scientists who helped design the study and should know better!

    This is very unfortunate since it will doubtless dissuade many people from trying a more scientifically rigorous brain training regime.

    Martin Walker
    http://www.mindsparke.com

    Reply
  7. Hi Erin

    I was using the Lumosity program and thought that this study would follow along the same lines. I am finding that while doing the training exercises one or two of the questions are repeated. Would be interesting to know if this is a test of memory creeping in or just a program generating the same questions on different days. The study does seem to be concentrating on knowledge. Let’s hope that they release details of the study at the end.

    Reply
  8. Yes, Erin, I have used other brain training exercises/games in the past, including Lumosity, games from your site, and those of a couple of other sites that you have in your list of 10 free sites. All could qualify as brain training exercises.

    But the “brain training” associated with this study does not appear to be training in things like memory, perception, and other skills. It appears to be attempted training in knowledge.

    There are 6 categories, but they are all of exactly the same format. You are asked to put things in order from the greatest to the smallest. The categories are things like population, duration, distance, pop culture, etc.. There seems to be no consistency in how many you get right. You could get one thing out of order, and miss anywhere from 2-5 of the 5. You get a score based on how many of the 5 are in the correct slot. With some items you are asked to order, the meaning is obscure. For example, if you are putting things in number order, where would you put “answer to life, the universe, and everything”. It turns out that it fits between “Countries in the EU” (lower) and “Carats in the Crown Jewels’ Kohinoor Diamond” (higher).

    After you put one group in order, you are shown what the correct order was, but not any actual numbers, dates, etc. The next time you encounter those items, they may be with different other items. Each day you only do one exercise in each of 3 of the 6 categories. So, for example, that adds up to one exercise in each category every other day. Going to the practice room to “hone your skills” is optional.

    I think the danger of this study is not that the people participating are unlikely to gain anything from it. It is that since it is a research study, the results will be used to make generalizations about whether brain training works.

    Reply
    • Cathy,

      But the “brain training” associated with this study does not appear to be training in things like memory, perception, and other skills. It appears to be attempted training in knowledge.

      That’s interesting, and I would love to know if that continues to be the case. I hope that upon completion of the study, they release the design so we can get an accurate picture of the process.

      I think the danger of this study is not that the people participating are unlikely to gain anything from it. It is that since it is a research study, the results will be used to make generalizations about whether brain training works.

      Good point. It does seem to be the M.O. – deciding if this stuff works. While the current list of completed studies is small, it points to the conclusion that consistent training does benefit targeted areas of cognitive function. I’d like to see more scientific evidence that the training can actually cross domains, because I, along with many others (I’m sure you too), have reported a good deal of anecdotal evidence supporting this. We just need more studies, and we’re getting them. You are so right to point out that Brain Test Britain (no matter which way it swings) will not and should not be the “end all be all” deciding entity.

      Thank you again for reporting on this, and please keep us posted!

      Victoria,

      Thanks for signing up and posting with your findings. I truly appreciate it, and we have many readers who are following along also. Can I ask which program you were previously using for your brain training?

      Reply
  9. I have now completed 3 days of training. At the moment I have only seen one style of game with different themes. I tend to agree with Cathy and Erin at the moment and cannot see how my result will improve unless other games are introduced. Incidently during this study we have been advised that we should not use any other brain training program while taking part in this study. Certainly the program I was using was much better and now I have ended my subscription so that I can follow their advice with this study.

    Reply
  10. I signed up, and did the benchmark tests, and the first day, plus “honed my skills” in the practice room. And, I have to admit, I’m disappointed. This is really supposed to be a research study?

    Based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t really think the “brain training” qualifies as such. And if it did, I can’t see that the small amount you are supposed to do each day would affect any measurable difference in any reasonable length of time.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the feedback, Cathy. Do you currently use a brain training program? (If so, did you find it more challenging than the training in the study?)

      I ask because I believe the study is designed to represent a wide variety of the current brain training products. Some require just 10-20 minutes three times a week to see results. And I would have to think that because Brain Test Britain is actively recruiting a general population (and not just those of us who are inclined to train our brains), they have created fun training games that are more apt to keep participants interested throughout the study.

      Please keep us posted!

      Reply
  11. I’ve signed up for the Brain Test Britain. First day testing done. I found it interesting and challenging. Not quite sure what to make of it. A bit mysterious not knowing what testing group I’ve been put in.

    Cheers, Sparky

    Reply

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