Researchers need to account for placebo effects before claiming treatment success
TUESDAY, June 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Cognitive-training programs may be offering only placebo effects, according to a study published online June 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Cyrus Foroughi, a doctoral student with the department of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and colleagues recruited 50 participants using two different fliers posted around a college campus. One flier specifically promoted a “Brain Training & Cognitive Enhancement” study, noting that “numerous studies have shown that working memory training can increase fluid intelligence.” Both groups took a preliminary IQ test, and then completed an hour of brain training.
The next day, everyone took a follow-up IQ test. Participants who were told of the possible cognitive benefits of the training experienced a 5- to 10-point increase in their score on the standard 100-point IQ test, but those who only knew they were taking part in a research project tested much the same as they did before.
“These findings provide an alternative explanation for effects observed in the cognitive-training literature and the brain-training industry, revealing the need to account for confounds in future research,” the authors write.
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