Thursday, October 23, 2014

Playing Portal 2 leads to better cognitive performance than playing Lumosity games


So-called "brain games" have proven to be a lucrative market, but the evidence supporting their efficacy in improving cognition remains thin. Now, thanks to researchers at Florida State University, it looks like the evidence is actually mounting against the brain game niche. It turns out, the commercially successfully entertainment game Portal 2 actually proved to be significantly more effective in boosting brain skills than games from the popular brain game service Lumosity.

Portal 2 image from macgamerhq.com
When I reviewed Lumosity on this site previously, I was definitely skeptical of the efficacy of their games in improving cognition. The research that Lumosity pointed to was scant at best, and the games themselves were often not even as deep or interesting as your typical mobile puzzle game. Still, there was no comparative evidence to draw on to say that Lumosity games were better or worse than any other games in improving mental performance. But now, there is.

"Portal 2 kicks Lumosity's ass," lead researcher Valerie Shute says. Her team's study found that players who played Portal 2 performed significantly better than Lumosity players on all tests administered during the study, which included tests of problem solving, spatial skill, and persistence.

Of course, Shute's study is just one small study, and much research still needs to be done before we can really understand just how and when games can improve our cognitive abilities both in the short term and the long term. But I dare say that this study helps affirm a brainsforgames mantra: stop playing "brain" games and just play smart games!

You can read the original research publication by Professor Shute and her team here: http://myweb.fsu.edu/vshute/pdf/portal1.pdf