Can brain training aid children?

Newspapers report that research shows a brain training game can “vastly improve children’s school grades within a matter of weeks”. The report is mixed with news that Facebook may improve working memory, but spell checks and Twitter may “work against improving working memory”.

Aspects of these reports are based on research presented at the British Science Festival by psychologist Tracy Alloway. The research tested an online game, JungleMemory, available through subscription. The game’s website claims it is “scientifically proven to improve IQ, working memory, and grades”.

The available research refers to one small study of 15 children with learning difficulties, which found the game improved measures of crystallised intelligence (skills acquired through knowledge and experience) and school performance. However, this evidence is weak and whether or not it constitutes scientific proof is debatable.

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