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Review
, 115 (40), 9897-9904

How to Play 20 Questions With Nature and Lose: Reflections on 100 Years of Brain-Training Research

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Review

How to Play 20 Questions With Nature and Lose: Reflections on 100 Years of Brain-Training Research

Benjamin Katz et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Abstract

Despite dozens of empirical studies and a growing body of meta-analytic work, there is little consensus regarding the efficacy of cognitive training. In this review, we examine why this substantial corpus has failed to answer the often-asked question, "Does cognitive training work?" We first define cognitive training and discuss the general principles underlying training interventions. Next, we review historical interventions and discuss how findings from this early work remain highly relevant for current cognitive-training research. We highlight a variety of issues preventing real progress in understanding the underlying mechanisms of training, including the lack of a coherent theoretical framework to guide training research and methodological issues across studies and meta-analyses. Finally, suggestions for correcting these issues are offered in the hope that we might make greater progress in the next 100 y of cognitive-training research.

Keywords: cognitive training; executive function; fluid intelligence; formal discipline; working memory.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest statement: B.K. worked as a game designer for Lumos Labs, the company behind the brain-training website Lumosity.com, before beginning graduate school in 2012.

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