The word “placebo” comes from the Latin and means “I shall please.” A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that claims about the benefits of brain training may simply be placebo effects:
“Placebo effects pose problems for some intervention studies, particularly those with no clearly identified mechanism. Cognitive training falls into that category, and yet the role of placebos in cognitive interventions has not yet been critically evaluated. Here, we show clear evidence of placebo effects after a brief cognitive training routine that led to significant fluid intelligence gains. Our goal is to emphasize the importance of ruling out alternative explanations before attributing the effect to interventions. Based on our findings, we recommend that researchers account for placebo effects before claiming treatment effects.”
(Hat tip to Deric’s MindBlog).