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Study shows: Language exercises can be effective and fun

If you have trained with NeuroNation exercises before, you may have come across our language exercises such as ‘Dictionary’, ‘Password’, ‘Eloquence’, and ‘Word Craft’. These exercises are guaranteed to be fun, but how effective are they in training your language skills? 

Our users know that training with NeuroNation is fun and effective. They particularly enjoy training with our language exercises. Premium-members have access to a total of seven language exercises, which they thoroughly train with. What makes them so exciting is that they allow the user to be creative and versatile. In most of these exercises, the goal is to come up with as many words as possible with very little restrictions.

Influence on verbal fluency

But fun alone doesn’t make a brain great. The effectiveness of each exercise is even more important. Does regular training with our language exercises lead to substantial benefits? Bianca Spelter of the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany, set out to examine this in her Bachelor Thesis. She wanted to find out, whether training with a selection of NeuroNation’s language exercises would increase verbal fluency (our ability to find the right words in the right situation). An individual’s verbal fluency is measured with several different categories (see below).

Age-related performance decline

Normally, verbal fluency declines as we get older. This makes the opportunity to increase verbal fluency particularly relevant to elderly people [1]. Therefore, participants who were chosen for this study were all aged 70 or more. Since this is a so-called pilot study – meaning it is the first examination of this type – it was only conducted with four participants. In total, training lasted for three weeks, during which participants trained three times a week for 20 minutes with the exercises ‘Eloquence’, ‘Password‘, ‘Scrambled Words‘, and ‘Word Craft‘.

Regensburg Verbal Fluency Test

In the study, the Regensburg Verbal Fluency Test was applied in order to detect the differences in verbal fluency performance before and after training [2]. The test versions used before and after the training were slightly different from each other, so that a performance improvement merely due to repeated training with the same test could be avoided. In the Regensburg Verbal Fluency Test verbal fluency is divided into four different categories. 

Findings: Improved performance in 3 out of 4 categories

In three out of four categories, the results evidently showed improved performance. This was highly visible in two categories and slightly visible in one category. One category displayed a slight performance decline (see chart below). 

Performance development

The four verbal fluency categories

The semantic categories represent the ability to find the appropriate words for certain content-related contexts – for example, how many animal species can a person think of from the animal kingdom. The formal-lexical categories, on the other hand, describe how well a person can name words with certain characteristics, such as words that start with the letter ‘N’.  

Conclusion: Language exercises are fun and effective

The study therefore shows that the NeuroNation language exercises are not only fun and engaging to train with – they are also effective when trained with regularly. Future studies should, however, further examine this effect with a larger number of participants.

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1: Seiferth, N.Y. & Thienel, R. (2013). Exekutive Funktionen. In F. Schneider & G.R. Fink (Hrsg.), Funktionelle MRT in Psychiatrie und Neurologie (S. 359-374). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

2: Aschenbrenner, S., Tucha, O. & Lange, K. W. (2000). Regensburger Wortflüssigkeits-Test (RWT). Göttingen: Hogrefe Verlag für Psychologie.

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