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Do video games trump brain training for cognitive boosts?

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Posted at 10:02 PM, Sep 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-29 23:02:22-04

We've all heard how we should be keeping our brains active, and there are no end of services dedicated to helping you accomplish that, promising to make you smarter or improve your memory by training your brain.

But instead of making 15 minutes of "brain training" part of your normal routine, what if you could get that mental boost from games that are meant for fun rather than exercise?

A recent study pit Portal 2, Valve's critically-acclaimed puzzle game, against Lumosity, one of the top-selling brain training programs.

Participants were assigned to spend eight hours playing one of the games over two weeks. They were given cognitive tests both before and after their gaming homework.

And the researchers say Portal 2 is king. While the Lumosity group saw no changes in their scores, the Portal 2 group saw gains in problem solving, spatial skill and persistence tests.

Of course, saying Portal 2 is the new brain training champion is a bit of a stretch. Lumosity advertises itself as helping your brain improve over time, not just with the handful of sessions described in the study.

But this does highlight something interesting: lots of recent studies have shown that video games do affect the brain in some positive ways. Find out more by watching this Newsy video.