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Scientists scold celebrities for promoting Brain Age

Ross Miller

Charitable organization Sense About Science has published its report on celebrities endorsing "scientific mumbo jumbo" that is of debatable merit. While diet pills and skin care lotions are obvious targets, the report (PDF file) also criticized Nicole Kidman and Patrick Stewart, among others, for endorsing Brain Age 2 (also known as More Brain Training in Europe).

Kidman, who also did a commercial for the game, was quoted as saying, "I've quickly found that training my brain is a great way to keep my mind feeling young." Not so, according to Dr. Jason Braithwaite, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Birmingham. Said Braithwaite, "While practice at any task should lead to some form of improvement for that specific task, it is not clear that this improvement reflects anything other than a basic learned process for that specific task."

The Brain Training games have been developed by Ryuta Kawashima, a neuroscientist and professor at Tohoku University in Japan. So which neuroscientist should we trust? That is, of course, debatable, but we'd wager that pushing yourself to do quick math calculations is a fairly healthy recreation. Not seen: a floating, polygonal head of Dr. Braithwaite.

[Update: video fixed]

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