London, January 26 (ANI): A survey of 10-year-old children suggests that a 10p pencil is as good as a much expensive Nintendo brain-trainer at stimulating the memory.
The study's finding dismisses the claim in Nintendo's advertising campaign, featuring Nicole Kidman, that users can test and rejuvenate their grey cells.
"The Nintendo DS is a technological jewel. As a game it's fine. But it is charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test," Times Online quoted Alain Lieury, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Rennes, Brittany, who conducted the survey, as saying.
Nintendo claims to have developed certain "edutainment" programmes-like Big Brain Academy and Brain Training-which improve "practical intelligence by improving blood flow to the brain.
The company claims that its programmes can make users "two to three times better in tests of memory." It even claims to assess capacity by measuring "brain age", and insists that older people can keep their minds young by using the console.
"The more you use the brain in a challenging way, the better it can work. We know that the mental processes of our brain start to weaken if we only use it in our routine daily life," the Japanese neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, who developed Brain Training, says on the Nintendo website.
Professor Lieury said that helping children with their homework, reading, playing Scrabble or Su Doku or watching documentaries, rather than soap operas, matched or beat the console.
The researchers conducted an study on 67 ten-year-olds with a view to testing whether Nintendo's claims were true.
"That's the age where you have the best chance of improvement. If it doesn't work on children, it won't work on adults," Professor Lieury said.
The researchers divided the children into four groups-the first two did a seven-week memory course on a Nintendo DS, the third did puzzles with pencils and paper, and the fourth just went to school as normal.
Before and after the programmes, the children undertook a variety of tasks-logic tests, memorising words on a map, doing sums and interpreting symbols.
The researchers said that the children who used the Nintendo DS system failed to show any significant improvement in memory tests.
They agreed that the children using the Nintendo DS did do 19 per cent better in mathematics, but so did the pencil-and-paper group, while the fourth group did 18 per cent better.
The researchers also observed that the pencil-and-paper group recorded a 33 per cent improvement in memorising, while the Nintendo children were 17 per cent worse.
In logic tests the Nintendo children registered a 10 per cent improvement, as did the pencil-and-paper group.
According to the researchers, the children who had no specific training improved 20 per cent.
In a book titled Stimulate Your Neurones, due out this month, Professor Lieury says: "There were few positive effects and they were weak. Dr Kawashima is one of a long list of dream merchants." (ANI)