01 December 2008

Brain training debunked

I am so glad to see this article in The Guardian (via Mindhacks), reporting Sergio Della Sala's systematic dismantling of the claims of brain trainers. Della Sala kindly comments that faith in brain training is often well intentioned:

'There are all kinds of myths that surround the brain. Some are passed on in good faith, some are funny and have been made up by pranksters, while others are designed with commercial reasons in mind - these are the most dangerous.'

I remember once having to exercise extreme (uncharacteristic) self-restraint, listening to my daughter's primary school teachers earnestly describing the brain-training course they had been on; particularly what they now understood about how to get the most out of both sides of their pupils' brains, and of the mythical impact of water on pupils' thinking. Ben Goldacre at Bad Science has, for some time, been waging a campaign against this kind of pseudoscience, particularly the Brain Gym courses run for teachers in British schools. With a little luck there is enough momentum now for schools to redirect their training resources. Can feel a rant about waste of tax payers' money coming on.

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