Watching nature documentaries on TV offer better mental exercise than playing brain game apps. This was revealed in a recent research article authored by Catherine Borness, Michael Valenzuela, John Crawford and Judith Proudfoot, which was published in the Plos One website. The result of the study was also highlighted in the National Geographic website.
The result of the study is quite surprising. This is because aside from the purposes of entertainment, many people rely on brain game apps to actually enhance their mental skills like focus, memory, imagination, logic and attention to detail.
The Method of the Experiment
The experiment of Borness and her company involved the people working at the Australian Taxation Office. There were 135 personnel who volunteered for the research. The group was split into two in order to determine what kind of activity would allow better mental exercise.
Based on the research article of Plos One, the first set of participants was designated as the Cognitive Training (CT) group. The other set was given a designation as the Active Training (AT) group.
The people in the first group were continuously exposed to software called Happy Neuron that presented short brain trainings for a period of 16 weeks. The personnel on the other group were given videos that featured nature documentaries from NatGeo for 16 weeks. Each person in the second group was given a set of questionnaires too that will serve as verification whether each one them watched the series of videos or not.
The results were collected and presented to an organizational psychologist for assessment. Then, to ensure that the psychologist will not be biased with the interpretations, the statuses of the people under the two groups were not revealed.
Borness stated that the impact of the brain game app was minimal. But, surprisingly, the people who were exposed to nature documentaries showed significant developments.
One element that contributed to the positive result of the AT group was that the videos provided them a way to lower stress. This offered them a better way of life and a development in their communication skills according to the study.
Aside from the videos, Borness attributed the success of the second group to the questionnaires that they regularly answered, which were language-based.
The outcome was also influenced by the fact that games that focused more on logic, memory, focus and other factors only use language in just a fifth of a time said the researcher. Thus, the measured effects of the CT group were lower than the scores garnered by AT group.
Borness did not discount the fact that brain game apps are still useful for some individuals though. The researcher admitted that she herself is a big fan of brain game apps due to the entertainment that they provide, especially during her free time.
The researcher of Plos One admitted that their product may somewhat raise questions in terms of completeness because they failed to determine whether doing enough of a certain activity will actually yield significant effects. She added that they haven’t exactly pinpointed what is “enough”, so this will be a subject to another research.