Report: Brain Training aids study in schools

A study has found that using games such as Dr Kawashima's Brain Age in class really does boost a range of skills.

Gaming could soon be part of the national curriculum if one academic researcher has his way. Scottish primary school teacher Derek Robertson, who set up Consolarium--the Scottish Centre for Games and Learning--has released results of his most recent study that shows so-called brain-training games have a positive impact both on behaviour and on learning when used in schools.

The study took place over three P6 school classes (children aged 10-11), where School A was given 30 Nintendo DS consoles and copies of Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training and used them for 15-20 minutes every morning. School B used Brain Gym--a program of physical activities that is marketed as improving learning abilities--for the same amount of time every day, whereas School C acted as a control group and did not have access to either.

The children were given a numbers test before the Brain Training/Brain Gym activities, and retested again afterwards. Robertson found that there was no real change in academic self-concept (how smart the kids thought they were). However, he found improvements in both the accuracy of children's calculations and the average completion time for sums.

The control group scored approximately 72 percent on the first test, and 77 on the second. The Brain Gym group scored 70 percent before, and 71 percent after, whereas the Brain Training group saw an increase from 76 percent to 86 percent.

For average completion time the control group took around 19 minutes to finish the first test, and 18 on the second. The Brain Gym group took 19 minutes at first, which went down to 17.5 minutes, and the Brain Training group took approximately 16 minutes at first and 13 after.

The teacher in charge of class A told Robertson in a postmortem report that, even before seeing the official results of the second test, she knew her kids had improved. She said, "All those kids were coming in on a Monday morning, and they'd get out the Nintendos and it settled them down for the rest of the day." She added that no one had attempted to break the games machines, or otherwise damage them, because the children felt they were important.

Speaking at the BAFTA headquarters in London, Robertson said that in order to engage youngsters, especially those in schools where teaching is "challenging," teachers need to find new ways to motivate and stimulate kids and adults to learn. He said, "We have to find things that have cultural resonance to learners."

Robertson showed a video of a young boy racing to do a series of sums in the shortest amount of time possible, attention wrapped on the handheld. He commented, "Can you imagine giving kids a sheet of sums to do and getting that kind of interest? They were really proud of their scores. It was cool to be good at maths in that class."

He has also worked on other projects with games in schools, including with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 as a basis for creative writing exercises, as well as experiments with Big Brain Academy and Nintendogs. He has a primary school project about to begin using the PlayStation Portable, which he thinks has exciting possibilities due to its multimedia capabilities and Internet access, and another using My Word Coach, which he thinks will have a real impact on literacy.

Robertson said that he would now like to try the research project on a larger sample.

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Discussion

62 comments
lawsonzh589
lawsonzh589

yeah, i have brain training and my time on calculations x 20 was 60sec. when i started and now it's 25sec. (just a few weeks later) :):):):)

chakan2
chakan2

Wow, you get kids to do math for an extra 20-40 minutes a day, and they get better at it...Revolutionary... It would be cool to see more interactive learning like this in the classroom.

JAREDJR
JAREDJR

I love the Brain Age series. I got my free set of styluses(?) a while back from Nintendo and that made it even more worth the budget price!

Merl57
Merl57

How could you be stupid and ignorant enough to remotely believe that it wouldn't

smarb001
smarb001

awesome. i wish my school had that instead of biology :S

HMtheJJ
HMtheJJ

lol, do u really need a research to tell u this result?? what a joke, if u practise math 20 mins more than the next one for a month, chances r, u probably already have the answer to one of those ungiven questions. that's how asian kids r so good at math, they just do way toooooo many questions and excrises. that's all

ralphikari
ralphikari

If these Brain games are non-profit I'll give them credit; otherwise they're just wolves in sheep's skins going after your money and marketing tools.

A7Xfan
A7Xfan

It's the size of a small note book. Kids can take these home and play games on them and have fun. To make it even better they can learn. It's all wireless, which i guess counts for something. It just seems like the perfect learning tool for young children and even through high school. Competing for high scores. You'd get one of these and just keep going along all the way through High School.....I think its genius and more software should be put on these for educational purposes. BUT not necessarily software to be put on store shelves. One problem though is once these get incoperated in schools the "coolness" of video games may fade with younger generations and you're back to the drawing board. But so long as they have their games that are different from their school work I don't think it'd change too much.

bacchus2
bacchus2

This is positive news. However, haven't these types of educational products been on PC's for years? That said, Brain Age and its ilk do service all ages as opposed to some of the PC software which is perhaps suited to more limited age ranges. Perhaps its the fact they can crack out the DS at the desk rather than go to a workstation? The fact that they are using a stylus as opposed to a keyboard? I don't mind a bit of Brain Training, but I fall into that same group that has not played any educational software on my PC.

Williedude87
Williedude87

I remember playing some video game with a rabbit in it with spelling and math mini-games. I believe you could put your own list of words in, so if you had a spelling test you could use those words. I would consistently score high on all the tests, but was usually put in detention for not completing homework. Who's wasting their time and the bad student now, Mr. Yasui?

matty_sen
matty_sen

ha,hahahah put youre video games away till you do youre homework they said, no, you can not take handhelds in to school they said, youle never gain anything doing that they said, not any more! to those people UP YORSE! damm, video games insted of work would be off the hook!

JonnyNemesis
JonnyNemesis

To everybody that ever told us that video games will rot our brains: sit down and shut up.

mpoulin
mpoulin

I can believe it. I play Brain Age II every day and I love it. It is also very cheap, only $20!

Cherry-Blossoms
Cherry-Blossoms

Wow~! That's reallt good news! I might pick up braintraining then. :D

gnbfd
gnbfd

I still don't have Brain Age 2 :?

nickythenewt21
nickythenewt21

Wow. I should get Brain Age (to improve my 4.0 grade average).

69
69

I also read somewhere a few months back, that some Gym's have incorporated wii's. I dont mean at schools, i mean at fitness clubs type thing. Some people use it as part of a Warmup/CoolDown routine, while others use it for light cardio. Seriously, you really gotta appreciate what Nintendo's been bringing to the table with both the DS and Wii. Who's more innovative then Nintendo?

mhder
mhder

This is a good thing but all of you who play any game are learning or improving your memory to some extent. I think this kind of DS using in school was done in Japan last year with a language class. Students who used english training etc showed more interest in the subject + their vocabulary increased significantly.

Foolishledgend
Foolishledgend

This study is definitely a step in the right direction for a better public view for video games. Games have always been a great way to learn things even if it is only a few random facts. I can honestly say that a significant part of what i know came from video games and the like; from cruisin' world teaching me that Kenya is one of the two countries that naturally have giraffes, to the globe in the library of Bully, to games like samurai warriors giving me a bigger vocabulary and a history lesson. The fact that there are games specifically designed to make you smarter is an added bonus. People just need to recognise that video games do in fact have positives.

Gamer_152
Gamer_152

It wasonly a matter of time I guess and I'm kinda surprised with DDR and Wii being employed in various P.E programs that this didn't come sooner. Of course I'm not sure it would capture the kids round here.. Well not any kids in year 4 or higher.

Platyphyllum
Platyphyllum

I think that games can be a good way to help a child learn! I actually had a more advanced vocabulary in my class when I was in Grade 5/6 because of the vast amount of RPGS I played :P I learned words like "berserk", "nanomachines", and such :P It's good people are finally starting to try and see the benefits of video games instead of putting them down by saying it's "too violent".

Supernova_86
Supernova_86

It would be so cool to play video games at school. Even though Brain Age may not be the most exciting game on Earth for many of us, you have to agree that it is still alot better than reading boring textbooks :)

kbaily
kbaily

Leave it to Nintendo to find ways to make educational games fun. I've also heard stories of Wiis being used in gym class alongside DDR. I wish I could've play video games in school.

HIM-Jimmy-AvA
HIM-Jimmy-AvA

This is a great idea! Your friends will envy you beating them at math instead of calling you a nerd lol i do have a feeling... In Scotland, where i live... Half the class time will be kids in pictochat drawing penises. There will also be the kids that will bring in mario cart and metroid for a quick game in class.

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

Think of brain age as a concept to learn because they would obviously make changes to it if it became everyday usage at schools. They'd make it more robust, keep the fun, add more things. Games could be a great learning tool for drama, art, writing, reading, math and science... if made properly.

Way2fonky
Way2fonky

Lol markevens, we must have been in the same class because I remember using "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" too. Man it was fun, it without knowing it you were learning at the same time. Makes you wonder what happened to that franchise.

markevens
markevens

Sweet, video games are moving away from the mario gta steriotypes into what they really are, the only interactive medium. Of course interactive learning will be more engaging than paper and pen. I remember back in the day when I was in 5th grade where our teacher would use "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego" to help us learn geography. It worked then and with the technical improvements since then (hmmm... 18 years) they should be able to make leaps and bounds in educational software.

dorohala
dorohala

I am shocked that it can be used to study LOL!!!

teirdome
teirdome

This eventually means that Bioshock will be used to learn creative writing skills, awesome. The thing that makes me chuckle is that in the future if we are being educated through games, the smart kids are going to become this era's jocks.

Land-0-Funk
Land-0-Funk

Brain Age was fun for the five times I tried it, though I found it kinda gimicky and boring after a while and traded it in. However, I can see how children could really like and get into it as part of everyday school work.

nestea_king
nestea_king

Good, I look forward to seeing the day when I can go to school and be forced to play some games. Finally the "studies" are proving to be useful, rather than the "games are violent" studies that always go on.

rockstar_88
rockstar_88

Personally I think Big Brain Academy is the better of the brain training games because its got tougher questions, but Brain Age focuses on progressive learning. I probably didn't stick with it long enough to notice a difference, but my friends have. I've been using the DS for other training games though, like Jam Sessions, which works surprisingly well despite the fact that its more of a training tool than a game. I hope someday the DS might actually have programs which will teach you individual school subjects like Algebra and Chemistry so I have a way of studying them without bulking around a big textbook, but from the sound of things this idea isn't far from being implemented.

Dill-Man
Dill-Man

confused of how hotel dusk will help, plus the game includes him killing someone and tons of reference to beer and adult themes like child beating

joeamis
joeamis

Clearly shows that games have very positive aspects to them, but mainstream society has no idea what games actually involve so they fear them and blame them for society's ills...

stevo_360
stevo_360

Scotland supports gaming. :D

REVOLUTIONfreak
REVOLUTIONfreak

I think it just varies more on the individual, I doubt that Brain Age and other brain training games were major factors in everything. It probably did help though, I'm sure.

123625
123625

fun + learning = good grades boring + learning average

Alex_THVK
Alex_THVK

And, well. They are darned fun too. Sometimes I gotta pry them off my coworker's hands during breaks cause they wanna try "That Brain Age game" and beat their previous time record.

bossjimbob
bossjimbob

The same could be said of Oregon Trail. Educational games are cool, despite their bad reputation among the hardcore crowd.

xatman911
xatman911

Up Jack Thompson face! They finally realise. Come to think of it, if we did not have games than what would we do with out spare time. I do not think every one will be good and study or be creative, they will turn to other things , some not good. Most games are good as long as they are challenging as well. I am a school goal keeper. I saw a drastic improvement in my reaction time after I switched to playing Soul Calibur after Tekken. Soul Calibur is a very fast game, therefore, I have to think faster. Simple...

TruthSeeker777
TruthSeeker777

hmmm...I think I might take a closer look into Brain Age. Math was my toughest subject in high school and college. I am all for this product if it can simultaneously entertain and educate me.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

Watch and learn Jack Thompson, videogames are good!

GrimBee
GrimBee

You don't need to make a study on if a brain game will improve your brain... the name is a big giveaway! ;) Anyways - Its cool that FINALLY students are learning about things which are used in everyday life. Schools are so out of date, everything is all about research, no practical work. Brain Age actually gets you to write your answers quickly, and gets you to improve your goals gradually - not with one exam. I hope that games like this can influence all school learning. I mean, if this game was part of a subject in school, I would of aced it. But its no wonder I spent my entire revision periods talking about games or mitching off school to play games - Schools do nothing to keep your brain and body active. They just surpress your abilities, not nurture them. Games allow you to take things on a trial and error basis, and they give you sounds to go with the experience. So I found that I learned alot more about things in games, reading up about car specs, hearing scientific crap in mgs games was great - even though half of it was totally made up, it sure sunk in! I mean, I know more about a nanomachine than I know about a nucleus.. lol

bionic4723985
bionic4723985

I think this is great. I remember having a terrible time with math when I was younger, but I really enjoy doing the math exercises in Brain Age. It has helped me to be more efficient at work too, when I work with the registers. I hope to see this happening more often.