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Cognitive Benefits of Exercise Outshine Brain-Training Games – Psychology Today (blog)


Psychology Today (blog)
Cognitive Benefits of Exercise Outshine Brain-Training Games
Psychology Today (blog)
He notes that physical exercise can actually cause beneficial structural changes in the brain and boost its function. Charness predicts that "exer-gaming," which combines exercise with brain games, will increase in popularity throughout the 21st century.
Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis British Journal of Sports Medicine – The BMJ

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Cognitive Benefits of Exercise Outshine Brain-Training Games – Psychology Today (blog)

How ‘Puyo Puyo Tetris’ tricked me into liking puzzle games – Engadget

The idea of a comedy-driven story supporting a puzzle game might be novel to me, but for Puyo fans, it’s par for the course. The series was originally spun off from a Japanese RPG, and the narrative aspect of the adventure series carried over to the match-four Puyo games. When the franchise merged with the classic tetromino game to create Puyo Puyo Tetris, that storytelling carried over once again. Thankfully, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, offering an “adventure mode” that’s little more than a collection of anime tropes performing over-the-top slapstick gags. Even so, this is more than enough to do something no other puzzle game has before: keep me engaged.

Chalk it up to personal preference or a simple ineptitude for the genre, but puzzle games have never been able to hold my interest for long. I enjoy the challenge of Dr. Mario, and indeed, Tetris is an essential piece of gaming history — but I inevitably abandon the games when the difficulty curve outstretches my patience. With Puyo Puyo Tetris, it’s oddly different. The game’s silly vignettes are the perfect way to break up the endless rounds of gameplay, rewarding each victory with a few minutes of light comedy, cute characters and just enough story to make one wonder what comes next. It’s the carrot that pushes me to learn how to play the game better.

It’s worth the effort too. Puyo Puyo Tetris’ story may be by-the-numbers anime nonsense, but it’s funny nonsense, enough to make me laugh out loud repeatedly. Maybe I’m easy to please, but it drove me to learn the game — which is surprisingly refreshing. Both the Puyo and Tetris elements of the game are competent in their own right, but as the game progresses the two play styles merge, introducing competitive game modes that pit the puzzle games against each other: One mode swaps between the two on the fly, and another forces you to play both at the same time.

These game modes are all fun on their own, but on the Nintendo Switch, they’re a special joy. Pulling out Puyo Puyo Tetris at a friend’s house, handing her a Joy-Con and watching her react when the game suddenly switches from Tetris to Puyo Puyo is a unique, sadistic pleasure. It’s also a great case for the console’s tabletop mode, and next to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it has become my go-to game for showing the multiplayer capabilities of the Switch to friends.

Every new Nintendo console needs a Tetris game, and although Puyo Puyo Tetris isn’t exclusive to the Switch, it fills the role well. My hard-core puzzle-fan friends tell me there are better versions of each game available, and that’s probably true — but if you’re looking for a lighthearted, genuinely funny and challenging puzzle game with a lot of variety, you can’t go wrong here.

Puyo Puyo Tetris is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch.

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How ‘Puyo Puyo Tetris’ tricked me into liking puzzle games – Engadget

Brain Training Games Are a Waste of Time – Men’s Journal

Most of us fear losing brainpower someday, especially if weve watched a loved one suffer from Alzheimers disease or dementia. Its no wonder, then, that an entire industry has sprung up around brain training digital games, puzzles, and other tools that promise to boost memory, quicken learning, and even prevent cognitive decline. But while brain games sound great in theory, theyre not backed by science, and a new study confirms their claims are baseless.

To test whether brain training really can enhance working memory, as companies suggest, psychologists from Florida State Universitys Institute for Successful Longevity recruited 60 older adults. Every day for a month, half of the participants played 45 minutes of Mind Frontiers, a brain-training video game designed to exercise specific aspects of cognition and memory. The other half did daily crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and word searches, also often believed to boost working memory even though science disputes it.

By fine-tuning working memory, brain-game makers claim youll improve other mental abilities such as spatial reasoning and processing speed. This should, in turn, help you do better at other, unrelated brain tasks. However, the volunteers in this study experienced none of these perks. They got better at Mind Frontiers or the specific puzzles theyd been working on, but this proficiency didnt translate to other aspects of reasoning or memory that could help them in the real world.

We looked at a variety of cognitive measures including IQ, processing speed, memory, and reasonability before and after the study period, says researcher Wally Boot, a psychology professor at FSU. These people improved largely in the precise things we trained them on, but there was a very narrow transfer of that training. Basically, you get better at brain-training games, but who cares? Do you get better at other tasks? No, he says, which is what matters in the end and is what the brain-training industry promotes.

A lot of people, especially seniors, have concerns about developing dementia, and commercial brain-training products are just playing to those fears, says Neil Charness, another researcher on the study and a renowned expert in cognition and aging. Companies are a lot more careful with their claims now that theyve been fined for misrepresenting their products benefits. But they still subtly imply that brain training will help you in all sorts of ways besides the tasks you are training on.

This does not mean brain games or even less expensive mental activities like Sudoku are a total waste of time. Were not saying all brain-training tools are bad, Charness says. If you enjoy mental puzzles, great. Go ahead and do them. There are lots of free tools for your smartphone or tablet.

Just keep in mind, Charness says, that by getting really good at the New York Times crossword puzzles, you are simply getting really good at the New York Times crossword puzzles. You aren’t necessarily upping your IQ, sharpening your memory, or becoming any smarter or faster at your job. They key thing is to keep your expectations in line with what research shows, he says. You might enjoy these activities, but they wont help you remember where you left your keys or parked your car.

If you really want to protect your brain and lower your risk of dementia, step up your workouts. Exercise is your best bet, Boot says. The scientific literature clearly shows that aerobic exercise is good for cognition and preserving brain structure and function. Besides, even if exercise had no cognitive benefits, you should be doing it anyway.

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Brain Training Games Are a Waste of Time – Men’s Journal

Your Brain Will Flip for the Challenging Puzzles of Invert – AppAdvice


AppAdvice
Your Brain Will Flip for the Challenging Puzzles of Invert
AppAdvice
Invert – A Minimal Puzzle Game ($1.99) by Noodlecake Studios Inc and Glitchnap is a puzzle game that is fit for those who love brain teasers, logic puzzles, and even Rubik's Cube fans. If you enjoyed recent games like Vignettes, Polycolor, or even

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Your Brain Will Flip for the Challenging Puzzles of Invert – AppAdvice

Skiplit a beautifully simple yet awesomely impossible puzzle game for iOS – Develop

Skiplit is a free and beautifully simple yet awesomely impossible puzzle game for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

To play this beautifully simple 2-D level game, just swipe the ball to shoot it at the correct angle, bouncing it off of walls, around obstacles, and into the correctly colored goal. Be careful, though! You can only bounce the ball a few times each level. Levels quickly become more and more complicated, requiring more thinking and timing to beat them. Almost every level can be completed in multiple ways!

Skiplit can be played anywhere it doesnt eat up battery, and no internet connection is needed, making it perfect for plane rides, road trips, or whenever you just want to solve a puzzle.

Build, play, and share your own unique level creations using the level designer, and share them with the world in the Skiplit Community!

Skiplit is available on the Apple App Store for free at skiplit.com/get. Visit skiplit.com/pressfor more press information. If you would like to reach out, you may contact us at skiplit.com/contact.

Games Press is the leading online resource for games journalists. Used daily by magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, online media and retailers worldwide, it offers a vast, constantly updated archive of press releases and assets, and is the simplest and most cost-effective way for PR professionals to reach the widest possible audience. Registration for the site and the Games Press email digest is available, to the trade only, at http://www.gamespress.com

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Skiplit a beautifully simple yet awesomely impossible puzzle game for iOS – Develop

Statik Review: Think Outside The Box – UploadVR – UploadVR

They say great minds think alike, but Statik does a lot to disprove that theory. Like developer Tarsier Studios, Ive long wondered what types of unique VR experiences you can get out of using PS4s DualShock 4 as a tracked object in a virtual world. But while our concepts for games may be similar, Tarsier outsmarted me at every turn with its devilishly clever new puzzle game, resulting in a memorable challenge.

In Statik, youre trapped. Youll constantly be drifting in and out of consciousness and each time you awaken youll find yourself in a different part of a mysterious laboratory. Youre joined by Dr. Ingen, a world-weary scientist that puts you through a series of bizarre trials. Each of these involves several puzzles fitted into a box that ensnares both of your hands. Every time you complete a box, youll be knocked out and moved onto the next level.

While that might sound formulaic on paper, Statik is anything but. First off, the game does a really good job of capturing that cramped, claustrophobic feeling you can have when using a standard controller inside VR. I often felt a panicked frustration as I helplessly flailed my arms around inspecting each box. Were used to grabbing Move controllers and reaching out into the virtual world around us, but Tarsier finds something else in dialing your control back a few notches instead.There are some minor niggles with the controls, especially as you assemble parts to build a mysterious box between some levels where youll long to use the analogue sticks, but overall this is an ingenious approach to immersing you in a virtual world.

Each of the games eight puzzles is individual and unlike the others. At one point youll be changing filters on a built-in projector and matching them up with shapes in a room, while another challenge has you steering an RC car around the lab in search of answers. Theres a sense of invention here thats rarely seen in puzzle games today, and infinitely more exciting than yet another escape room game for VR.

This variation in puzzles is Statiks biggest strength. The game doesnt have a central mechanic that it falls back on; each time you wake up youll be starting from scratch as you work out what makes your new box tick.Its to Tarsiers credit that, for the most part, the puzzles are all polished and present a fair level of challenge. I only found myself stumped for more than a few minutes on two occasions, and the solutions were (often literally) right under my nose. I sat for half an hour trying to figure out a color-coordinated brain teaser in the second to last level, convinced I had tried all I could, before a frustrated jolt of my hand revealed an element of the puzzle I hadnt yet considered.

The game thrives on those excellent gotcha moments, though the variety here does come at the cost of length. You can clear the single-player mode in about two and a half hours (or faster if youre smarter than me), though Tarsier has thrown in a fun second screen multiplayer mode via the PlayStation App that brings the game much closer to Steel Crate Medias excellent Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes than its refined single-player puzzles do.

Perhaps the more interesting puzzle in Statik, though, is its story. While I enjoyed the satisfaction that came with figuring out challenges on my own, I found myself even more eager to peel back yet more layers of its ambiguous plot. Ingen makes for a bewildering companion, if he can be called that; a character that first comes off as exhausted slowly morphs into a tragic figure.

Youll soon start catching strange sections of dialogue as his blurred face stares longingly towards the ceiling, or listening in on his outside communications between levels. Youll take Rorschach-like tests in which hell seem indifferent to whatever answers you give, and leave you questioning your place as his lab rat (the answer to which is quite a shock). In this day and age Portal is the easy comparison to make (and Ingen himself reminds you of one of Half-Lifes archetypal scientists), but the game really has an identity of its own, and thats something to be proud of.

Statiks sheer invention and fascinating premise are somewhat betrayed by its short length. No two puzzles are the same, and theyre all well-balanced and thought-out trials, but they left me begging for more. Still, that speaks to just how enjoyable an experience this is while it lasts. The game casts a web of intrigue that will pull you in and I suspect have some people picking it apart for even longer than the initial run time. This isnt quite PSVRs Portal, but it wouldnt take much for Tarsier hit that high with a sequel.

Statik is available now on the PlayStation Store for $19.99.Read ourGame Review Guidelinesfor more information on how we arrived at this score.

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Puyo Puyo Tetris is One of the Best Switch Games Yet – Tom’s Guide

Even if Puyo Puyo Tetris was just a new take on the line-clearing classic from 1984, it would already be one of the best Tetris games ever released. It’s quirky, it’s fun, and there’s way more content than should justifiably be in a simple puzzle game.

But that’s not all, because by adding Puyos to the mix, you turn an already fast-paced puzzle game into a wild whirlwind of falling blocks and exploding slimes. So if you are trying to decide whether to pick up Puyo Puyo Tetris (out now for PS4 and Nintendo Switch) , here are a few reasons why you should plunge right in.

If you don’t know what Tetris is, I’m not even going to ask what rock you’re living under. But Puyos are another story, a story that’s largely been hidden overseas. Depending on how you look at it, the last internationally released Puyo Puyo game was Puyo Pop for the short-lived N-Gage in 2003, or the Puyo Puyo mini-game from a Hatsune Miku game on the Nintendo 3DS in 2013.

But now Puyos are back on the scene in a big way, and having another style of puzzle to solve offers a Yin to Tetris’ Yang in a way that combines the best of east and west, kind of like a ramen burger. Mmm, that’s tasty.

There’s absolutely no reason why there should be a story mode in a puzzle game, but I’m really glad it’s there. The story adds depth to the characters, which even come with full voice acting, while also easing you into the concept of Puyos, Tetriminos and the insanity that happens when you mix them together. And now that I’ve tasted this much, the only thing I really want out of the story mode is more of it.

Also, in case you run out of story missions to do, there’s also a challenge mode to provide you with endless replayability.

MORE: Nintendo Switch vs. PS4 vs. Xbox One: Which Console is For You?

I never knew I wanted multiple characters in a Tetris game until now. There’s Suketoudara, the flamboyant fighting fish, Ai, the canine science chief of the spaceship Tetra, Zed, the big robotic housekeeper and so much more. When you battle, characters are constantly shouting and squabbling in what amounts to a verbal fist fight, which only makes the puzzle-battling even more intense.

The dream of the Switch is taking your system to a swanky roof party and having the scene instantly turn into an impromptu gaming extravaganza. And thanks to Puyo Puyo Tetris’ built-in local wireless multiplayer, that could actually be a reality. On top of that, since Tetris and Puyo Puyo don’t require extensive control schemes, you can use each Joy-Con to its full potential by giving the left and right controllers to different people and instantly doubling your fun.

There’s also a full online mode for people who’d rather stay inside. Just don’t come crying when expert Puyo Puyo masters in the land of the rising sun show you how much of a noob you really are.

Starting at $30 for a PS4 disc or as a eShop download on the Switch, Puyo Puyo Tetris already offers a discount compared to your standard $50 or $60 game. On top of that, because you can play Tetris, Puyo Puyo, or both at the same time through a number of different game modes, it’s like you’re getting two games in one.

Also, if you search for Tetris on the PlayStation Store, the only result you get is for Tetris Ultimate for $15. While that’ game is a very straightforward interpretation of the classic puzzler, it’s not nearly as fun. And if you’re a Switch owner, this game is the perfect break for when you just don’t feel like climbing walls in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or just want something quick to play on the go.

I would, however, advise you stay away from the physical version of Puyo Puyo Tetris for Switch, as it cost $10 more than the digital release. The whole game only takes up 1GB of space, so downloading shouldn’t be an issue.

If you’re like me and you’ve bought countless versions of Tetris across multiple consoles and platforms, Puyo Puyo Tetris is easily one of the best. When you throw in the bright colorful graphics, lovable characters and whole a new world of squishy blocks to discover, you have a game that’s definitely worth the money.

Screenshots taken from the Nintendo Switch version of Puyo Puyo Tetris.

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Puyo Puyo Tetris is One of the Best Switch Games Yet – Tom’s Guide

Can You Solve The Probability Two Random Walkers Meet? A Strange Way To Approximate Pi. Sunday Puzzle

Points A and B are opposite corners of a 5×5 grid.

Alice starts at point A, and each second, walks one edge right or up (if a point has two options, each direction has a 50% chance) until Alice reaches point B.

At the same time, Bob starts at point B, and each second he walks one edge left or down (if a point has two options, each direction has a 50% chance) in order to reach point A.

What is the probability Alice and Bob meet during their random walks? (Meet means occupy the same point at the same time).

What is the probability for an n by n grid? What is the limiting probability as n goes to infinity?

Watch the video for a solution.

Can You Solve The Probability Two Random Walkers Meet? A Strange Way To Approximate Pi

Or keep reading.

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Answer To The Probability Two Random Walkers Meet

The first step is to consider the possible positions of Alice and Bob after k steps. When Alice is k steps from A, Bob is also 10 – k steps from A. The only points at which they could meet are when k = 10 – k which has a solution of k = 5 steps. These points are along the diagonal of the grid as pictured below.

Now we consider the number of ways they can meet at the possible meeting points. Some points can be reached by multiple paths. Hence, we will count the number of ways to reach each of the points.

In a given step, Alice can either move up (U) or right (R). In the first step, there are two possible paths, U or R, so there is 1 way each to reach the points adjacent to point A.

In the second step, Alice can move U or R again. Thus there are 4 paths: UU, UR, RU, and RR. Notice the paths UR and RU are 2 ways to reach the same point. We can write out the number of paths by adding the numbers from adjacent vertices.

In the third step, Alice can move U or R again. There are 8 total paths. Rather than writing them out, we can count the number of paths to a point by adding the numbers in connecting edges.

At this point, we can also notice a pattern: the 8 paths after 3 steps are the paths in the binomial expansion of (U + R)3. The numbers we have been writing on the points are numbers from Pascal’s triangle, and they are equal to the binomial coefficients.

So let us go ahead and write the number of paths for the points after 4 and 5 steps. These could also be calculated as the binomial coefficients for the expansion of (U + R)4 or (U + R)5.

By symmetry, Bob has a similar distribution for the number of paths from B to the possible meeting points. As Bob can move down (D) or left (L) in a given step, these could also be calculated from the expansion of (D + L)5.

Now let’s calculate the probability.

Probability calculation

How many paths are there from A to a possible common meeting point? For a random walker, 2 possible paths for a step, so after k steps there are 2k possible paths. After 5 steps Alice has 25 paths, and so does Bob. thus, there are (25)(25) = 45 total paths they could both take after 5 steps.

Furthermore, we have determined the point that is j units up from A and 5 – j units right from A has a number of paths equal to the binomial coefficient C(5, j), where C(n, k) = n!/[k!(nk)!]. The same is true for Alice and Bob, so the number of ways that both meet at to a particular point is the square of a binomial coefficient.

As Alice and Bob can meet at any of the 6 points along the main diagonal, the total number of paths in which they could meet is the sum of the squares of the 6 binomial coefficients:

12 + 52 + 102 + 102 + 52 + 12 = 1024

This needs to be divided by the total number of paths they could take, which is 45.

1024/2056 = 63/256.

The probability they meet is approximately 24.6%.

Generalizing to n by n board

On an n by n board, Alice and Bob could possibly meet at the points that are n steps away–along the diagonal of the grid.

As each walker has 2 choices in a step, there are 2n possible paths in n steps for each walker, making for a total of (2n)(2n) = 4n paths.

The number of paths for each walker to a point also follows a binomial distribution. The point that is j units up from A and nj units right from A has a number of paths equal to the binomial coefficient C(n, j). The same is true for Alice and Bob, so the number of paths where they pick the same point is the square of each binomial coefficient. There are n + 1 points at which they could meet, and the number of ways they can meet is the sum of the squares of the binomial coefficients:

There is a nice simplification to this formula. First we use the property C(n, j) = C(n, nj), and we write the product as:

Now imagine we have a group of n women and n men. How many ways are there to form a group of n people? The above sum counts this. The first term is the number of ways to have 0 women and n men, the next term is the number of ways to have 1 woman and n – 1 men, and so on.

But we also know the number of ways to pick n people from a group of 2n is equal to C(2n, n). Thus, the two ways to count are equal, and we have derived the identity:

We now divide the number of ways they could meet by the total number of paths 4n:

Pr(meet) = C(2n,n)/4n

What happens as n goes to infinity?

The term C(2n, n) is known as the central binomial coefficient, and it has a rather interesting limit. As n goes to infinity, it is approximately 4n/√(π n).

Using this approximation, we have our probability is related to pi!

We could therefore approximate pi as follows. Simulate two random walkers on a large n by n grid.

As the probability approaches 1/√(π n), we can estimate by:

(1/Pr(meet)2 n) ~ π

Before you actually try to code this, the formula has very poor accuracy. Even on a 1000×1000 grid, it will only approximate pi to 2 decimal places accurately.

Nonetheless, it’s somewhat surprising that π appears in a problem about two random walkers on a grid!

Links for asymptotic formula
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_binomial_coefficient

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling%27s_approximation

http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/58560/elementary-central-binomial-coefficient-estimates

http://planetmath.org/asymptoticsofcentralbinomialcoefficient

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Can You Solve The Probability Two Random Walkers Meet? A Strange Way To Approximate Pi. Sunday Puzzle

Brain Games: The Science of Coaching – Sports On Earth

In this era of big data, we’ve been able to advance our knowledge of every professional game, with advanced metrics now part of roster building in most front offices. Scouting is no longer a feel, but a science, and we have a fuller picture of which players truly rise above their peers. But, despite all this, we tend to rely on just two numbers to assess the best coaches and managers: wins and losses.

Team records, of course, do not tell the full story. And smart fans understand this. Thus, with this week marking the rare time of year when five major team sports converge in the news cycle — the NFL Draft on Thursday, the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing, the MLB season blossoming and the English Premier League campaign winding down — we thought it would be a good time to audit the measures of coaching, specifically when it comes to in-game strategy.

Which sports require the most hands-on approach when it comes to managing each minute, pitch and possession? How do they compare? What are the strategies that affect the outcomes of games the most? And, of course, which bosses are the best? Let’s go to the clipboard.

The team with the fewest coaches (not including the manager) on staff is the Blue Jays with nine. The teams with the most, at 13 coaches, are the Diamondbacks and Giants, with most of the league somewhere in-between. The variations are mainly a result of some teams not carrying an assistant hitting coach (Blue Jays, Phillies and Padres), and some teams carrying more than one bullpen catcher (Indians, Tigers, Astros, Angels, Rays, Diamondbacks, Mets and Giants). Given the 25-man active roster for MLB teams prior to Sept. 1, when active rosters expand to 40, the ratio of coaches to players is roughly one coach to every two players.

Most areas of coaching expertise are compartmentalized, with pitching coaches and hitting coaches handling the bulk of the instruction. Most managers will handle key decisions during a game — when to bunt, when to call in a reliever, when to attempt a steal, when to intentionally walk a batter — with much of the micromanaging handled by bench coaches or the players themselves (for instance, pitch selection will depend on many factors, including the rapport and experience of any given battery). A catcher like Yadier Molina — who knows how to deal with a staff, where to position fielders, when to call pickoffs — is basically a manager on the field.

Managers have to make sure to protect players over a 162-game season, which means trying to avoid overburdening relievers and veteran bats. That will certainly affect in-game decision-making during the regular season, though all bets are off in the postseason. As we saw prominently last October with the use of relievers like the Indians’ Andrew Miller and the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman, earlier and more frequent use of late-inning specialists in high-leverage situations is becoming more common.

Of the top 11 teams in MLB last season in terms of innings pitched by relievers, just one — the Dodgers — made the postseason. The Dodgers led all of baseball with 590 2/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen. The next four clubs, in order, were the Pirates, Reds, Twins and Braves.

Of the bottom five teams in terms of relievers’ innings pitched, four reached the postseason — the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Blue Jays. The only team in the bottom five that didn’t make the playoffs in 2016 was the White Sox (78-84). Blue Jays relievers pitched the fewest innings of any team’s relief corps last season, with 464.

A key element of this is that lower usage of the bullpen indicates starting pitchers are going deeper into games, and teams in that situation tend to have a better chance to make the postseason. But another element is the strategy involved based on pitcher-hitter matchups, past history and the grind of a 162-game season with the strain it places on bullpen arms.

There does appear to be some correlation between innings pitched and effectiveness. In 2016, the Astros’ bullpen had the lowest Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) at 3.32, and was 10th in innings pitched at 551. Meanwhile, of the top five teams in reliever FIP last season, only the Dodgers were in the top nine in terms of innings pitched.

The Pirates are among the more aggressive — and successful — teams in the Majors at employing shifts. (Getty Images)

There’s no doubt that defensive shifts have proliferated in MLB during this decade: During the 2010 season, 3,323 batters faced a defensive shift, per Fangraphs. By last season, that number had soared to 34,801 (a 947 percent increase). But how does that translate into the games themselves?

“It’s the analysts’ process, where they take the data and they make adjustments based on what they see based on the data,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told Sports on Earth. “Then it’s our advance scouts that make adjustments based on what they’re seeing in their current look. It’s our coaches going through the process, and are they comfortable with where we are? Then it’s an in-game adjustment with [catcher Francisco Cervelli] and the pitcher and the infielder and the outfielder, with what they’re seeing.

“It’s not like there’s one mandate that comes out of the computer that, ‘This is where you’re going to stand.’ It’s a six-person process.”

While it’s evident that defensive shifts have exploded in usage, it’s also clear that teams are still grappling with how often to use them, as well as what kind of shifts to deploy.

1) Traditional vs. non-traditional configurations

The Marlins and Pirates were among the top 12 teams who used non-traditional defensive shifts most frequently in 2016. A “non-traditional” shift, per Baseball Info Solutions, is one involving positioning other than the “Ted Williams shift” — having three infielders on one side of the infield — or “partial Ted Williams shift,” where two players are significantly out of position at one time, including a second baseman in short right field.

Miami, 26th in total number of shifts (of any kind) last season, deployed a non-traditional shift against 298 batters in 2016, second only to Oakland’s 299. Pittsburgh employed a non-traditional shift against 234 batters last season.

But the two clubs have seen significantly different results: opponents’ batting average on balls in play (BABIP) when being shifted against by the Marlins was .289, whereas the BABIP against Pirates’ non-traditional shifts was .244. Both clubs were more successful than the MLB average BABIP allowed against non-traditional shifts, which was .293.

The Marlins’ utilization of non-traditional shifts jumped 35 percent from 2015 to 2016. But the opponents’ success rate increased, as well — in 2015, opponents’ BABIP was just .221 against Miami in non-traditional shift situations, 68 points lower than last season. Though admittedly a small sample size, that could indicate the club is still wrestling with mastering shift strategy.

“It was one of those things we looked into this winter,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “As much as anything, the bottom line of it isn’t about how much you shift or how much you don’t, it’s really about turning ground balls into outs.”

The Pirates went in the opposite direction with respect to non-traditional shifts from 2015-16. In ’16, they deployed non-traditional shifts against 59 fewer batters than they did the prior season and the BABIP of Pittsburgh’s opponents in those situations also went down significantly, from .273 to .244. Meanwhile, the Pirates moved from 27th in the Majors with 971 traditional shifts in 2015, to fourth last season with 1,483, signaling a significant change in strategy.

“We have to be cognizant of when the shift is beat,” said Huntington. “The challenge becomes remembering the several hundred other times they hit the ball right into the shift and [infielder] Josh Harrison’s standing in a spot that conventional wisdom wouldn’t have him standing in, and he makes a play and he makes it look really easy.”

Other teams have also drastically increased the number of traditional shifts they utilize. One of these clubs is the Cardinals, whose use of traditional shifts jumped 161 percent from 2015 to ’16, from 312 instances to 813. In 2015, opponents hit .295 on balls in play against the shift, and last season, .296 (MLB average in 2015 was .290, and last season it was .298).

“Some of it has to do with the more information we get,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Getting buy-in from our pitchers, too, and showing them and continuing to educate them on, ‘Here’s what we see. Here’s what the information tells us. How comfortable do you feel?’ If the pitchers don’t feel comfortable with it, we’re going to shy away. When they do, we’re going to take advantage of it.”

Early on, some Cardinals pitchers were hesitant when it came to defensive shifts, and as Matheny said, pitcher buy-in with this process is paramount. As that increased, so has the number of Cardinals defensive shifts. The number of non-traditional shifts St. Louis used also increased moderately from 2015 — from 240 to 276 — but, notably, the BABIP shot up from .204 to .348.

2) Quality, not quantity

The World Series champion Cubs were, by far, the most successful team in the Majors when it came to deploying defensive shifts in 2016. Opponents’ BABIP against shifts (both traditional and non-traditional) put on by Chicago was .239; the American League champion Indians were second, at .272.

The Cubs also shifted against the fewest batters in all of baseball last season: 603 (299 of which were non-traditional shifts).

Bench coach Dave Martinez handles the bulk of the defensive positioning duties and said that the Cubs will continue doing what they did last year. Martinez also echoed what the Rockies’ Cole said about player input.

“In-game, you see how guys are swinging the bats, so we might move them, and it depends on the wind here [at Wrigley Field]” Martinez said. “You might move them a few more steps back, or cover the lines more. For the most part, those guys do a great job. Last year, we followed [what they suggested] and it worked.”

The Cubs, under the guidance of manager Joe Maddon, are also known for unorthodox defensive strategy, such as moving a pitcher into the outfield or having first baseman Anthony Rizzo crash in hard on an opposing hitter’s bunt attempt while the second baseman covers first base. The process has even involved Rizzo trading his first baseman’s glove for a middle-infielder’s glove.

“It’s starting to catch on,” Martinez said. “It won’t be long before everybody does what we do with the bunt plays where we have Rizzo [crash in towards the plate].”

As teams around baseball continue to wrestle with strategy on defensive shifts, working to refine the process and achieve better results, executives, managers and coaches alike appear to share one common kernel of wisdom behind all of those efforts.

“This is still a game played by human beings, and there are times the shift will not work,” Huntington said. “The reason you shift is the probability tells you this is where he’s going to hit the ball, but occasionally, it does work against you.

“That’s the challenge: Do you feel better when a play’s not made conventionally, because, well, that’s just where you’re supposed to play? Or do you feel better when you make a play that nobody realizes you made?”

No matter what, the utilization of shifts is not only one of the biggest in-game management strategies that affects outcomes, but one that we can assess with raw data to determine success or failure.

— By Manny Randhawa

With Steve Kerr’s recent health problems, the Warriors will look to their coaching depth to help. (Getty Images)

Roster size vs. number of coaches is approximately 3-to-1 or 2-to-1. Most NBA coaching staffs comprise of the head coach and 5-7 assistants in various roles. For example, the Spurs have employed Gregg Popovich as their head coach for 20 full seasons (plus an interim stint during the 1996-97 season). This season, their coaching staff included six assistant coaches (Ettore Messina, Ime Udoka, James Borrego, Chip Engelland, Becky Hammon and Will Hardy). The two teams who have met in the NBA Finals the previous two seasons — the Cavaliers and Warriors — have similar-sized staffs as well.

The Warriors have Steve Kerr as their head coach along with three assistant coaches (Ron Adams, Mike Brown and Jarron Collins) and three assistant coaches for player development (Bruce Fraser, Willie Green and Chris DeMarco). That coaching depth will be tested soon, as lingering back issues could force Kerr to miss the entirety of the playoffs.

The Cavaliers are led by Tyronn Lue, who has five assistant coaches (Jim Boylan, Larry Drew, James Posey, Phil Handy and Mike Longabardi) on his staff. Teams often employ player development coaches who are not listed on the official coaching staff. For example, Steve Nash is a player development consultant for the Warriors and has worked with extensively with Kevin Durant and other players on the roster. Tim Duncan has worked with the Spurs this season. His title is less defined. Popovich once jokingly called him the “coach of whatever he feels like.”

The league modified its schedule this season to scale back situations where teams play four games in five nights, but teams are still weary about how much their star players play throughout the season. Here’s a look at all 30 teams’ records this season without a day’s rest between games (i.e. the second night of a back-to-back). The top records belong to the top three teams in the West: Houston (13-3), Golden State (13-4) and San Antonio (12-4). The worst teams are three teams that missed the playoffs this season: Dallas (3-13), Detroit (3-14) and Brooklyn (1-14). Another impact of scheduling is that one would think older rosters might be more susceptible to losses on the second half of back-to-backs, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either. Per RealGM, the average age of Houston’s roster is 26.4, the Warriors have an average age of 28.1, the Spurs 29.1. All of them were elite teams without any rest this season. Scheduling doesn’t affect a team’s performance so much as simply having a roster full of talented players.

1) Managing minutes

One of the ways for coaches to impact outcomes of games is to maximize optimal five-man lineups and manage their rosters to ensure that there is at least one superstar on the floor at all times. Per NBA.com, among lineups that played at least 300 minutes, the best five-man lineup in terms of net rating in the league belonged to the Warriors’ unit of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia, who outscored opponents by 23.1 points per 100 possessions. Kerr’s task in Golden State might sound simple, but coaches with multiple superstars have to ensure that their superstars are on the floor at all times. The Warriors are a good example for this. This season, Curry played 2,638 total minutes, Thompson played 2,649 minutes and Durant logged 2,070 minutes. Durant missed the most time with injury, so if we look at Curry and Thompson’s minutes, they spent 1,773 minutes on the floor together, which means approximately 67 percent of the time they played, the two were on the floor together. The Warriors outscored opponents by 19.0 points per 100 possessions when Curry and Thompson were on the court together. For NBA coaches, success in the regular season is tied to how well they can keep their stars on the floor, and find the best five-man lineups and use them with frequency.

In-game and in-series adjustments during the playoffs is where head coaches are most scrutinized, though. Kerr established himself as a tactician in the 2014-15 playoffs when the Warriors were down 2-1 to the Grizzlies, and he started Game 4 by having starting center Andrew Bogut defend Tony Allen — a below-average shooter on the perimeter — which allowed Bogut to act as a roamer on defense, and ignited the team to three straight wins to take the series. In the NBA Finals against the Cavs, the Warriors were down 2-1 once again when Kerr removed Bogut from the starting lineup and went with a smaller starting five with Andre Iguodala. The move also triggered three straight wins for the Warriors and the championship that year. (You could argue that a lack of adjustment cost Golden State the title last year, when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were eating the Warriors alive in Games 5-7).

2) Out-of-timeout possessions

Teams this season averaged between 93 to 103 offensive possessions per game. Even if a coach can positively contribute to, say, three offensive possessions per game out of timeouts, that’s 246 offensive possessions over the course of 82 games. Synergy Sports provided some data on each team’s points-per-timeout last season. Kevin McHale, who was coach of the Rockets at the time, was bottom of the list at 0.50 points per possession. At the top was Alvin Gentry of the Pelicans, averaging 0.976 points per possession. Using those metrics as an example, over a course of an entire season, assuming the 246 offensive possessions out of timeouts, McHale’s teams would have 123 points over those possessions, compared to 240 points for Gentry. The spread between those numbers would have an incremental impact on a team’s win total.

Image via Synergy Sports

— By Alex Wong

Blitz packages and third-down plays are among the biggest decisions an NFL coach can make. (Getty Images)

The ratio of players to coaches can be anywhere from 2-to-1 to 3-to-1. The Patriots have a staff of 18, but the gameday coaching falls heaviest on the shoulders of Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and special teams coach Joe Judge. Not that assistants don’t have their own influence after kickoff, but with an active gameday roster of 46 and three or four coaches doing the heaviest lifting, then maybe the “real” ratio is closer to 7.5-to-1, or 15-to-1. In the broadest terms, it’s one head coach and 46 active players.

Not that 18 is the standard-sized staff. The Seahawks have 26 coaches. Pete Carroll even has two assistant head coaches: Tom Cable and the recently promoted Michael Barrow. There are more coaches in Seattle to bear the load, but perhaps the single-minded view of the Pats also adds to their successful model; it’s just hard to argue that one way is good and one way is bad because Belichick and Carroll are two of the most successful coaches since 2012.

The smallest current staff belongs to the Steelers, where there are 17 coaches, led by Mike Tomlin. The largest staff is under another veteran head coach, Andy Reid, who has a staff of 29 in Kansas City. Since taking over a 2-14 team four seasons ago, Reid has gone 43-21 with three playoff appearances. Over those same four seasons, Tomlin is 40-24, also with three postseason trips.

Head coaches who do play-calling on game day:

Ben McAdoo, Giants (offense) Mike McCarthy, Packers (offense) Sean Payton, Saints (offense) Bruce Arians, Cardinals (offense) Hue Jackson, Browns (offense) Andy Reid, Chiefs (offense) Sean McVay, Rams (offense) Adam Gase, Dolphins (offense) Mike Zimmer, Vikings (defense) Kyle Shanahan, 49ers (offense)

McAdoo was promoted by the Giants from offensive coordinator to head coach and understandably didn’t want to hand over the job of calling plays to someone else. This is despite the fact that New York, like most teams on this list, has someone with the title of offensive coordinator: Mike Sullivan. The Giants were 26th in scoring and 25th in total yards last season and McAdoo won’t say if he’ll give up play-calling duties in 2017.

Of course, the most important play-caller on any NFL team might be the quarterback. As Belichick said this March, the biggest thing Tom Brady does for the Patriots is getting them out of a bad play call once he recognizes the defensive alignments before the snap. Like Molina on the St. Louis Cardinals, he’s the field manager.

The NFL has by far the fewest games of any professional American sport. Because of the number of games and preparation that can be as short as four days and up to two weeks between games, coaching becomes quite concentrated and preparation is key. Coaches can lay out offensive “blueprints” to open every game based on their research and film study leading up to the game, but even those may last two-to-three series at most. Now consider what a “halftime adjustment” basically is: It’s that one week of film study and preparation boiled down to basically trying to accomplish the same task in 15 minutes.

A study by Pro Football Focus in 2013 showed that scoring went down on Thursday Night Football 0.68 touchdowns per game on average, as teams often had just three days to prepare and the play has always seemed noticeably sloppy. A 2014 study by Timothy Vaughan showed the wide variance of outcomes on TNF, noting that the first five Thursday games of that season had ended in a blowout; however, six of the next 12 TNF games were decided by six points or less. Home teams also win at a higher rate on Thursday than they do on all other days, possibly due to the quick turnaround for travel.

Pete Carroll is 4-1 on Thursday, with all four wins coming by double digits. The Ravens are 6-1 on Thursday under John Harbaugh. Meanwhile, Andy Reid is an incredible 16-2 (.888 winning percentage) following a bye week. That’s better than Belichick’s 12-5 record following a bye, including a 31-24 home loss to the Seahawks last season.

Football has to be the most coach-designed major American sport, and for the players it mostly comes down to execution. That’s why the NFL Scouting Combine matters so much to these coaches and the draft is so important. Sometimes it’s just about finding the players who are physically capable rather than the ones who succeeded in systems that don’t translate to the NFL. Coaches don’t care if a receiver is gifted at making up a route; coaches care if he can run the exact route they game-planned, can memorize the plays and execute them to perfection. Compare that to basketball where freelancing and improvisation in a fast break is one of the most valuable skills to possess.

In 2016, teams ran an average of 57.4 offensive plays per game on the low end (Dolphins) to 69.1 (Saints) on the high end. New Orleans played an NFL-high 2,112 offensive and defensive plays last season, while the Lions ran an NFL-low 1,944 plays.

In general, the gap does not seem that wide, but in those 10-11 extra plays per game, a lot could happen. Here’s what coaches can control:

1) Clock management

Perhaps every coach has been criticized at some point for clock management, but one head coach who took it very seriously was Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter. After the Bucs promoted Koetter in 2016, he gave offensive assistant Andrew Weidinger a new position: “game management.” Weidinger’s job is to manage the clock and prepare for late-game situations and challenges. Tampa Bay improved from 26th in time of possession in 2015 to eight in 2016. That’s an extra two minutes of possession per game.

Four of the top five teams in TOP made the playoffs, while the bottom three — 49ers, Browns, Bears — are also the top three teams picking in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Eagles went from last in TOP in 2015 under Chip Kelly (25:51) to first in 2016 under Doug Pederson (32:31), giving them almost six-and-a-half extra minutes per game, though they actually scored 10 fewer total points under Pederson for the season.

2) Third-down stops

Perhaps no stat is more widely attributed to play-calling than third-down conversions and stops because of how much it impacts the outcome of a game.

Last season, the Saints were first in the NFL in third-and fourth-down conversion rates: 48.6 percent on third and 13 of 15 on fourth. Rounding out the top five offenses were the Packers, Titans, Patriot and Redskins. The bottom five in third-down conversions, starting with 32 and working upward: Rams, Broncos, 49ers, Jaguars and Giants.

The top five defenses in stops on third down: the Bucs, Ravens, Giants, Dolphins and Broncos. The most surprising is that Tampa Bay finished first in that category (34.4 percent) despite finishing 15th in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith, former head coach of the Falcons, did draw some interviews and interest in January for head coaching positions with other teams.

The worst, starting with 32, were: Washington, the Lions, Browns, 49ers and Saints.

So which coaching staffs were the best on both sides of the ball? Tampa Bay, Tennessee and New England were the only teams in the NFL last season to finish in the top seven in both offense and defense for percentage of third-down conversions and stops. Of course, the Pats won a title. Keep an eye on the Bucs and Titans in 2017. Cleveland and San Francisco were the only teams to finish in the cellar in both rankings.

3) Going all-in

Another thing that coaching can often be accountable for is how much pressure is being applied to the quarterback. This is because defensive alignments and blitz packages are often called out by coaches, though defensive leaders can still make adjustments if they notice a gap in the offensive alignment. Per Football Outsiders, the Broncos led the NFL in pressure in 2016 at 31.8 percent. Denver finished first in passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns allowed and net yards per pass attempt, and sacked the quarterback 42 times. Rounding out the top five were the Cardinals, Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins.

The worst team in the NFL at pressuring the QB in 2016 was the Colts, who did so on just 18 percent of drop-backs. They have somehow decided to hold steady with head coach Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino anyway.

— By Kenneth Arthur

John Tortorella of the Blue Jackets has made adjustments to his coaching style over the years. (Getty Images)

Only a fraction of a team’s coaching staff is stationed on a bench during a game. Typically, a head coach will have two assistants on the bench with him, but that’s not set in stone. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, for instance, prefers to have just one assistant on the bench with him (as an uninformed reporter learned the hard way some years back). But a team’s overall coaching staff is much larger than that. The Rangers’ staff — in addition to head coach Alain Vigneault — has an associate coach, two assistants (one in the press box who relays in-game observations during intermissions), a goaltending coach, a video coach, a video assistant, a skills coach and a skills consultant.

A head coach may have to make any number of decisions during the game: choosing whether to challenge a goal (with the assistance of his video team), or whether to call a timeout after an icing when his team is gassed, or when to pull his goalie, or which players to use in a shootout. There’s also work to be done between periods, from speaking to his team to watching video. And, of course, coaches communicate with their team throughout the game, offering criticism, or encouragement, or instructions, or whatever else is needed.

A coach may consider a team’s opponent when deciding on the last couple of spots in the lineup for a given game. Against a physical opponent, for instance, he may opt for a little more so-called sandpaper to better match up. And games on back-to-back nights may mean tapping the team’s starting goalie for one game and the backup goalie for the other. This season has also brought unique challenges, because of a schedule condensed by the preseason World Cup of Hockey and the new mandatory bye weeks. Tortorella killed off the Blue Jackets’ morning skate on game days (something he’d wanted to do in previous jobs), while per the Toronto Star, other teams are mixing in more optional practices or telling players who log big minutes to stay away from the rink as much as possible, with some teams making the morning skate optional.

This is a deceptively complex aspect of the game that only looks routine and machine-like because of the skill and preparation of all involved. In a nutshell, bench management involves not just setting the lines, but adjusting them when needed and deploying them at the right times.

There’s considerable strategy involved: A coach may want to get certain defensemen on the ice when an opponent’s most dangerous scorer is on the ice. Similarly, a coach might want to protect his own big scorer from shifts against an opponent’s best defenders. (The visiting team’s coach must decide first who to put on the ice prior to a face-off, but once the puck drops, lines can be changed on the fly.) Double-shifting a star might throw off an opponent looking to match up lines, but it also complicates things on the other end. And a coach may instead want to dictate the tone or pace by choosing a certain combination of players. Which is to say, there’s a complex calculus involved in bench management.

There’s also the matter of making sure the right players get the right amount of ice time. In a 2007 interview, then-Flames coach Mike Keenan spoke about Scott Bowman, a firm believer that ice time should be based on merit:

“Bowman was the master coach. What I learned from him was, and it may sound simple, it’s essential to have the right people on the ice at the right time. Ask someone how long a hockey game is, and most everyone will say 60 minutes. But from a coaching perspective, it’s 720 minutes — that’s six players, or positions, on each side, and two teams over 60 minutes. What you do as a coach, how you [apportion] those minutes, is essential.”

“You try to get your best offensive player away from a particular matchup, even for one shift,” said Eddie Olczyk, an NBC analyst and former NHL player and coach, in 2015. “One shift can change everything.”

— By Joe DeLessio

Jurgen Klopp is considered one of the smartest strategists in the English Premier League. (Getty Images)

The ratio in club soccer is usually 5-to-1 between senior team players and senior team coaches. It can be difficult to figure out the exact number of coaches on a given English Premier League team. These clubs are sprawling organizations, with many having senior, youth and women’s squads. Between all that, it isn’t uncommon for a club to have more than 100 staff members dedicated to helping the team on the pitch, from coaches to trainers to fitness specialists to data analysts.

Generally, though, for senior teams there are five or so coaches: a manager, assistant manager, a couple first-team coaches and a goalkeeper coach. Those are the people in charge of how the players train and what tactics a team will use in each match, with the latter responsibilities falling primarily on the manager and assistant manager.

It’s important to discern the difference between a manager and a coach, even if they’re subtle, and some duties overlap. In general, the manager and assistant manager are focused on the bigger picture in terms of both tactics and talent acquisition. The manager is more akin to a head coach/general manager. By contrast, coaches primarily work with players in training. Which isn’t to suggest coaches won’t have a say in tactics, it’s just the manager’s’ philosophy that will be followed on the pitch.

During matches, the managerial philosophy differs greatly from person to person. Most managers are focused on the overall strategy of the match during the 90 minutes and take little time to interact with or instruct individual players during games, such as Arsene Wenger of Arsenal. Rarely will you see him huddling with a player on the bench. Instead, his assistant manager, Steve Bould, takes on the task.

But someone like Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool is a bit different. Many times in a Liverpool match a Reds player will trot to the sideline to consult with Klopp before running on the pitch. There is no set way these clubs are run, but generally the higher you climb up the coaching ladder, the less work you’ll be doing coaching individuals — on matchday, at least.

One thing that separates domestic league competitions in club soccer from competitions in other sports is the evenness of the schedule. In the Premier League, every season lasts 38 matches with each club playing a home-and-home with every club. Every club plays every club once between August and December, and once more between January and May.

Do you rest some players during a Premier League match so they’ll be fit enough to play in the Champions League, or do you risk fatigue and injury and let your best players go in both? This system leads to the bigger clubs trotting out youth or marginal squad players for less important competitions such as the League Cup.

It’s of the utmost importance that managers prioritize their competitions. For example, in 2015 West Ham manager Slaven Bilic opted to field a weak side early in the Europa League, realizing that progressing further in the competition would hinder their Premier League progress. The Hammer fell to a little known Romanian team in the qualifying round, sparing them six additional fixtures in the fall and possibly more in the spring. The Hammers went on to finish a respectable seventh in the league.

Conversely, a team could opt to prioritize European competitions over the Premier League. In 2012, Chelsea was far out the running for the top four in the EPL, which would give them a bid into the next season’s Champions League. Without a realistic path to the top four in the league, caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo put his focus on the current Champions League campaign. The Blues won an historic European title and automatically qualified for the next one.

Read more:
Brain Games: The Science of Coaching – Sports On Earth

Do brain games make you smarter, or just better at brain games? – Uncommon Wisdom Daily

“Improve cognitive abilities, such as memory and concentration, with sleek, fun and addictive games designed by neuroscientists.”

These are the types of claims youll hear from developers of brain games. People are buying them, too. The games and the promises.

In fact, “brain training” has become a billion-dollar industry!

The concept of using games to train your brain can sound pretty appealing. You use a fun and challenging app on your phone or computer. And you can not only pass the time, but also become smarter in the meantime.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Thats because it might be.

Brain Games, Not Gains

Unfortunately, current research doesnt support many of the claims made for brain games. Thats according to a new study published in the science journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

“Our findings and previous studies confirm theres very little evidence these types of games can improve your life in a meaningful way,” said Wally Boot. Dr. Boot is an expert on age-related cognitive decline at Florida State University.

Millions of people around the world typically spend more than $100 a year and hundreds of hours “training their brains.” So, this is a big finding from the FSU research team.

The theory behind most brain games is that they can improve your working memory.

“Working memory” is the thinking skill that focuses on memory-in-action. That is, your ability to remember and use relevant information while youre in the middle of an activity.

Working memory helps you hold on to information long enough to use it. Its crucial to concentration, and can affect how well you learn something.

The FSU team examined whether improving our working memory would translate to better performance on other tasks. Or, as the researchers called it, “far transfer.”

All study participants were given information they needed to juggle to solve problems.

Researchers tested whether the games enhanced players working memory. They also looked at whether it, in turn, improved other mental abilities. (Reasoning, memory and processing speed.)

Wrap Your Mind Around This

There was some good news. But for most who want to use these games to stay sharp, its probably not enough.

As Neil Charness, lead author of the study, explains:

“Its possible to train people to become very good at tasks that you would normally consider general working memory tasks: memorizing 70, 80, even 100 digits.

“But these skills tend to be very specific and not show a lot of transfer. The thing that seniors in particular should be concerned about is, if I can get very good at crossword puzzles, is that going to help me remember where my keys are?

“And the answer is probably no.”

Adding to a consensus among other published studies is this

Brain-training games arent improving your cognitive skills, but rather just making you better at the games themselves.

So, its not surprising then that the brain-game industry has recently come under legal fire. Some companies are facing fines as high as $50 million for false advertising.

Have you ever used brain games before? Were you able to improve your memory beyond getting better at playing the games? Perhaps you are thinking about trying these brain-training exercises anyway. Does this new research change your mind at all? Please let us know in the comments section.

Happy and healthy investing, Brad

Journal Reference: Dustin J. Souders, Walter R. Boot, Kenneth Blocker, Thomas Vitale, Nelson A. Roque, Neil Charness. Evidence for Narrow Transfer after Short-Term Cognitive Training in Older Adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2017; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00041

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Do brain games make you smarter, or just better at brain games? – Uncommon Wisdom Daily


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