Study gives important warning: there could well be a placebo-effect active in cognitive-training studies

From experience to meaning...

I found this study by Foroughi et al. via Wouter Duyck and I think it’s pretty important enough to share it here. Why is it important?

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.

So what Foroughi et al. show is that while these recent studies on cognitive training sometimes show interesting results, there might be placebo effects blurring the conclusions. It’s a plea for the use of random…

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