Key Characteristics of Brain Training

In the review of the science behind the Lumosity brain training games, Hardy and Scanlon (2009) described five essential characteristics required to ensure the effectiveness of brain training interventions. These characteristics are:

  • Targeting: Effective training intervention should focus on broadly generalizable and transferable processes rather than specific content knowledge of tasks, while targeting to enhance the most essential aspects of brain function;
  • Adaptivity: Provision must be made to adapt the level of difficulty of the training task to the performance of the user on a moment-to-moment basis. An optimal level of difficulty must be maintained so that the performance task is challenging, yet not discouraging;
  • Novelty: Brain training will be more effective when the performance task requirements are novel to the user. Familiar tasks simply reactivate existing brain circuitry and will not foster significant information processing improvements;
  • Engagement: Effective brain training interventions are designed to capture user engagement and provide appropriate rewards to maintain and reinforce that engagement. Both of these conditions ensure that the brain becomes more receptive to learning and modification; and
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