Looks like it was built with minimal playtesting. Took me a couple tries to figure out how to play, for which I had to read the article.
On initial launch the game asks if the user is OK with their data being collected for research, but the 'No thanks' button/label is too tiny and too close to the large 'YES' button. I had meant to choose 'No thanks' but I think I clicked 'YES.
Perhaps with more traning, your brain will be better at helping you avoid aggressive 'YES' buttons :)
The opposite of rage quitting.
Now, the control for these experiments was amusing:
for one of the sessions:
> which played regular, dumb computer games
What would be a 'dumb' game is fascinating.
You'd have to find something that provokes no brain stimulation at all, no skill evolution while still being a game. Then if the 'game' was really completely void of content but the players kept playing it, would they end up in a kind o meditative state, potentially causing their abilities to increase ?
Another control group were doing crosswords, I guess to get a "well known quantity", but aren't crosswords also pretty demanding games depending on the people doing it? I'd be worse at crossword than building raiding strategies in an RPG for instance.
Somewhere I have the feeling these studies are deeply flawed with a lot of unchecked assumptions. Not by laziness per se, but it just seems that cognitive fields are inherently hard for rigorous studies.
"Finally, the big hope had been to motivate students to learn through interactivity and “gamification.” What any given software vendor might tout as a stimulating lesson, however, is often just a frustrating distraction for students. The case of edustar basketball shows that even highly engaged students may not be learning anything at all: in a randomized controlled trial, more than five hundred students were assigned either to an ordinary module teaching how to divide fractions or to a module teaching the same topic using a basketball game–like computer program. Students assigned to the basketball game spent about five minutes longer on the lesson, but performed significantly worse than students following the regular method. Ultimately, tech that boosted student engagement just took a longer time to teach them less."
Contrast with the "Math AR" tool GeoGebra. The interface is not perfect yet. But it does give a glimpse at what a truly interactive geometry lesson would look like. As well as a medium that invites life-long learning ;)
I do think many games today don't teach this though. You need to be able to lose. Old games made you lose constantly, you had to learn the patterns and build up your reflexes and coordination. Much of life is actually like this. It's a valuable skill to be able to keep going at something until you get it. I've seen a lot of people just give up on things at the first hint of difficulty, video games taught me not to do that and because of this, i'll push and keep learning skills even when it gets frustrating and not so fun. There's a lot of things I would've given up on if I hadn't learned that the rewards for pushing through are usually worth it.
This makes no sense. People exercise for 30 minutes a day, or read, or clean, or play video games, or watch TV, or tend to a garden, or do yoga.
Why are all these feasible but exercising your brain is not?
There is this thing called self-discipline which many of us exercise. Last January I bought a guitar as a complete novice, and 30 minutes a day later I've written over a hundred songs and some of them are quite good.
Sometimes I didn't have 30 minutes a day. That meant an hour the next day, or a few hours over the weekend. It's all about what your goals are, not feasibility.
Maybe these games are so far mediocre because there haven't been many made yet, and most creative endeavors are mediocre. It doesn't mean that it's not possible to make an awesome memory-training game.
One of the theories on why they are effective (doubting the main interpretation that they train your working memory/cognitive processing) is that the game trains you to endure frustration and at some point also boredom. Dealing with frustration and boredom are actually important success skills - so if there was a way to get the game more engaging there's a good chance that the positive impact would be reduced.
tl;dr: issue is still under debate, but it might well be that the need to endure boredom/frustration in at least the dual-n-back games might be a feature (that improves impact) rather than a bug.
The control they should have is a group that lift weights , walks , swims or runs  for two hours.
Also, I think they did not test transience of effect observed - how long will it last?
(Historical caveats about trusting the results of a single training study apply)
Christ what a low bar. That's like having your treatment group do jazzercise while the control watches TV, and then concluding that jazzercise is the most effective form of physical activity.
Your control group should be performing some sort of non-gaming intellectual exercise: reading a passage and answering some questions, having a group discussion on a serious topic, etc.
> Students who played Alien Game at a high level of challenge (i.e., reaching a high level in the game) developed significantly better performance on cognitive shifting tests compared to controls when they played for 2 h (Experiment 1, d = 1.44), but not when they played for 1 h (Experiment 2).
Probably it was a card sorting test. This sounds to me like "people who practiced card sorting got better at card sorting."
The study took place in the students' classroom, once a week over an 8 week period. [...] On the first week, demographic questionnaires and the computerized DCCS and Flanker tasks were administered. The Alien Game was then introduced to the students [..] They then played through the first, tutorial level to learn the basics of the game. For the next 6 weeks, students were asked to sign in and play for 20 min per week. Each week, the next two levels of the game were unlocked. [...] On the final week, the DCCS and Flanker tasks were administered again, and students were given a posttest questionnaire asking about their experiences with the game.
So if I understand correctly, that was:
- 1st week: just the questionnaire and test, plus demo
- weeks 2 to 7: play the game 20 minutes
- week 8: test again
So it seems the performance improvement was measured one week after the last game session.
A really simple way test/train your inhibitory control is play this "game" with partner. Have them hold up either 1 or 2 fingers. When they hold up 1 finger, you have to say "2" and when they hold up 2 fingers, you have to say "1". Try to do this as quickly and accurately as possible.
Backed by a single simple study with too small a sample size and little or no control group, paid for by the group currently making the claim (a group who may have commissioned several other studies but didn't have them published because the results were not as complimentary to their cause).
Maybe it's just me, but this gives me an ad feeling.
That being said, I think what is being said is that these 3 mechanics in the games are particulary suited to improve your brain activities.
The 3rd game is reimplementation of one of the games that is proved to improve your cognitive abilities - and I'm sorry, I cannot remember the name - which was about forcing your brain to work on disonnanced tasks.
That's all the endorsement we need.
I've played lots of games that require quick decision making skills and working memory, and perhaps it will become increasingly clear that when I played them, I wasn't just wasting my time.
As younger generations gain power, traditional wisdom will change and maybe people will start to see video games as productive. Really, the only downside I see with them is that they can displace exercise and face-to-face communication -- I know games can be social, but you really just need time talking to other people with no distractions. But if you balance your life appropriately, why not?
I quit playing videogames when I was about 16 or 17 and I still look back on that as one of the best decisions I've ever made.
> Really, the only downside I see with them is that they can displace exercise and face-to-face communication -- I know games can be social, but you really just need time talking to other people with no distractions. But if you balance your life appropriately, why not?
My issue with video games is that playing them too much, especially when young, increases your dopamine tolerance too much. Many of them are designed to be addicting.
I have mostly stopped playing video games and feel mental well being has significantly improved.
Of course, that's not to say I think they should be banned or anything but in my humble opinion you are ignoring the significant downsides of playing video games. That being said, I have many fond memories and friendships created through video games too! Like most things there's good and bad.
Also I don’t really get your point anyways. I’d think expanding one’s mind would be accomplished by routines with good variety, and see no reason why there needs to be a choice between play outside and play on a tablet. Especially when a child is too young to really do much without supervision...
> Two studies published in 2012 failed to reproduce the effect of dual n-back training on fluid intelligence. These studies found that the effects of training did not transfer to any other cognitive ability tests. In 2014, a meta-analysis of twenty studies showed that n-back training has small but significant effect on Gf and improve it on average for an equivalent of 3-4 points of IQ. In January 2015, this meta-analysis was the subject of a critical review due to small-study effects. The question of whether n-back training produces real-world improvements to working memory remains controversial.
> I meta-analyze the >19 studies up to 2016 which measure IQ after an n-back intervention, finding (over all studies) a net gain (medium-sized) on the post-training IQ tests.
The size of this increase on IQ test score correlates highly with the methodological concern of whether a study used active or passive control groups. This indicates that the medium effect size is due to methodological problems and that n-back training does not increase subjects’ underlying fluid intelligence but the gains are due to the motivational effect of passive control groups (who did not train on anything) not trying as hard as the n-back-trained experimental groups on the post-tests. The remaining studies using active control groups find a small positive effect (but this may be due to matrix-test-specific training, undetected publication bias, smaller motivational effects, etc.)
I also investigate several other n-back claims, criticisms, and indicators of bias, finding:
payment reducing performance claim: possible
dose-response relationship of n-back training time & IQ gains claim: not found
kind of n-back matters: not found
publication bias criticism: not found
speeding of IQ tests criticism: not found
So, I recommend everybody to try n-back exercises for some time [and see if it helps them] and I usually mention that's kind of proven to help scientifically (at least in some papers) and empirically but avoid saying its efficiency is anything close to an unquestionable fact. As a result people (including very smart and educated already) immediately report feelings like stains have been removed from their brains and their mental gears got greased.
All good but I must disagree with “kind of proven”. Things can be either proven or not proven, and this is not proven.
On the contrary, nothing in science is ever proven, only disproven. We can have less or more confidence in a particular model; and whether you should use a particular model depends on the cost/benefit analysis.
In this case, there is some evidence that it might be helpful, although somewhat disputed; but playing the game certainly doesn't hurt, and doesn't cost much, so it might make sense to give it a try.
Sure, but science is a specific case and I was talking about the all-or-nothing nature of the meaning of 'proven' itself.
If only we had a bullet-proof test to measure fluid intelligence (classic IQ tests have quite a well-known number of problems, solving math problems and puzzles is known to be much more of a skill, working memory is working memory - not intelligence itself) objectively...
Ah, I see. Yes, at that point it would have been correct to claim that it was proven.
> Improved visual contrast sensitivity. Successful treatment of amblyopia. Improved spatial attention. Improved ability to track moving objects in a field of distractors. Reduced impulsiveness. Overcoming dyslexia. Improved ability to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. Increased mental flexibility. Reduction of mental decline that accompanies aging.
Mainstream culture doesn't really want to accept this, for...a variety of reasons. And I still limit my son's screen time, even with games, because too much turns him into a dickhead and other activities are also important. But I don't doubt that for challenging games, there are cognitive benefits.