Production and Marketing of Commercial Cognitive training Applications

Length: maximum 1500 words
Submit: via Turnitin on the course blackboard site (submissions are automatically screened for
overlap and similarity with other sources, including other students)
Background information
Over the last decade or so, there has been an enormous boom in the production and marketing of
commercial cognitive training applications—also known as “brain training”—which claim to
improve cognitive ability, reduce cognitive decline, or even protect from neurodegenerative
diseases associated with cognitive decline (e.g. dementia). It is well known that cognitive functions
deteriorate as we age and, in Australia, the average life expectancy of an individual is significantly
longer than ever before; approximately 83 years. As a society, we place great value in improving
and maintaining both our physical and mental condition throughout life and into old age.
Consequently, there has been enormous interest in cognitive training programs claiming to improve
or maintain cognitive performance based on research evidence.
Unfortunately, most of these claims are unfounded. In fact, the creators and marketers of the
Luminosity brain training program were recently fined $2 million by the Federal Trade Commission
for deceiving consumers with unfounded claims. As a consequence, cognitive psychology
researchers have become increasingly interested in determining the true potential benefits of brain
training applications for cognition across age groups. One important aspect of successful or
effective cognitive training is not simply an improvement in tasks practiced, but rather evidence of
‘transfer’ to either closely related (near-transfer) or unrelated (far-transfer) cognitive tasks.
Psychological research can be imperfect, and interpretations sometimes potentially misleading.
Hence, it is of upmost importance to develop critical thinking and communication skills which will
enable you to: (a) judge and appreciate the value of a piece of research; (b) determine whether its
conclusions are justified; and (c) understand how this research compares and fits into the broader
body of literature for the topic.
For this assessment, we want you to write a critical evidence-based essay with regard to the topic
below:

“Does brain training positively impact a variety of cognitive abilities?”

In constructing your argument, we want you to present a specific ‘thesis statement’ and to provide
evidence supporting your thesis statement based on your presentation and interpretation of evidence
in two empirical research reports from peer-reviewed academic journals. You must choose your
two empirical research reports from the studies listed below.
To help you get started, here are some ideas of how you may approach this essay:
o Argue that brain training is or is not effective for cognition in older populations/younger
populations
o Compare the impact of brain training on older versus younger population’s cognition, and
argue that it is or is not effective for both populations, or only one population.

Your essay will be marked by your tutor (that is, the tutor who teaches the tutorial you are signed
on to in MySi-net) with respect to the marking criteria which will be discussed in tutorials (marking
criteria can be downloaded from Blackboard under “Assessment”). More information on all
aspects of how to write your essay will be given in tutorials. Therefore, it is in your best
interest to attend and actively engage with the materials in tutorials that will help you to
complete this essay.
You must include references to two research articles in peer-reviewed journals selected from
the articles listed below as your sources of evidence. It is not recommended that you include
more than two sources of evidence as that would reduce your ability to describe and interpret
the two studies in appropriate detail within your word limit.

 


Readings List

Ackerman, P. L., Kanfer, R., & Calderwood, C. (2010). Use it or lose it? Wii brain exercise practice
and reading for domain knowledge. Psychology and Aging, 25(4), 753. doi:
10.1037/a0019277
Ballesteros, S., Prieto, A., Mayas, J., Toril, P., Pita, C., Ponce de León, L., … & Waterworth, J.
(2014). Brain training with non-action video games enhances aspects of cognition in older
adults: a randomized controlled trial. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 6, 277. doi:
10.3389/fnagi.2014.00277
Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., & Shah, P. (2011). Short-and long-term benefits of
cognitive training. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(25), 10081-10086.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103228108
Kable, J. W., Caulfield, M. K., Falcone, M., McConnell, M., Bernardo, L., Parthasarathi, T., … &
Diefenbach, P. (2017). No effect of commercial cognitive training on brain activity, choice
behavior, or cognitive performance. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(31), 7390-7402. doi:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2832-16.2017
McDougall, S., & House, B. (2012). Brain training in older adults: evidence of transfer to memory
span performance and pseudo-Matthew effects. Aging, Neuropsychology, and
Cognition, 19(1-2), 195-221. doi: 10.1080/13825585.2011.640656
Nouchi, R., Taki, Y., Takeuchi, H., Hashizume, H., Akitsuki, Y., Shigemune, Y., … & Kawashima,
R. (2012). Brain training game improves executive functions and processing speed in the
elderly: a randomized controlled trial. PloS One, 7(1), e29676. doi:
10.1371/journal.pone.0029676
Nouchi, R., Taki, Y., Takeuchi, H., Hashizume, H., Nozawa, T., Kambara, T., … & Kawashima, R.
(2013). Brain training game boosts executive functions, working memory and processing
speed in the young adults: a randomized controlled trial. PloS one, 8(2), e55518. doi:
10.1371/journal.pone.0055518
Schmiedek, F., Lövdén, M., & Lindenberger, U. (2010). Hundred days of cognitive training
enhance broad cognitive abilities in adulthood: Findings from the COGITO study. Frontiers
in Aging Neuroscience, 2, 27. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2010.00027