SO-called 'edutainment' and other self-bettering software is proving to be a big hit on the Nintendo DS.
We've been bombarded recently with ads of Patrick Stewart showing his skills at solving complex equations (such as what is 2 x 3) to Julie Walters, presumably to suggest in a somewhat patronising manner that this is stopping him (as an elderly-ish person) from going senile (after all, committing an entire Shakespeare play to memory probably is insignificant next to the power of the DS).
Even Nicole Kidman has got into the act, (why - who knows?) possibly to prove that people in the advanced stages of starvation can also give their minds a work out.
But now researchers from the University of Rennes, Brittany say edutainment brain-training games are not as educational as first thought.
Researchers at the University of Rennes, Brittany, have concluded that there is no evidence to support Nintendo's claims that games such as Dr Kawashima's Brain Training help to improve mental sharpness.
Nintendo has said that games such as Brain Training and Big Brain Academy can improve 'practical intelligence', and that regular use of such games can make users 'two to three times better' in memory tests.
The research found those people who took tests after playing on the games didn't do any better than those who did other mental exercises such as playing more traditional games such as scrabble.
Nicole Kidman nibbles on the DS stylus. We know she's thinking of pie and chips.
And those using a 10p pencil and paper to carry out small problems did just as well.
Clearly giving your brain a work out is a good thing, but I can't imagine that it would have a really dramatic effect, and it is claims like those from Nintendo; namely that people would see a tangible, quantifiable benefit which is the problem.
Blimey - next thing they'll be telling us that going to the gym is better for the body than playing Wii Fit!