Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Saturday, 26 December 2009

Scottish education secretary backs 'brain training'

Boy playing computer game
There is disagreement about the benefits of the games

Education Secretary Michael Russell has said computer games can play a key role in encouraging children's learning.

Mr Russell said educational "brain training" technology could motivate young people to develop skills.

There has been disagreement among academics about the benefits of the computer games.

Mr Russell is being backed by Dundee University's David Miller who said research was starting to point towards some "real and tangible" benefits.

Other recent studies suggested brain training games may merely improve children's general computer skills.

Learning aids

The education secretary said: "We need to embrace new technologies and tap in to all the resources available to us to ensure that our young people develop successfully in a modern society, within which computers are so important."

"Educational computer games can be a great way of motivating young people to learn in a way that is relevant and enjoyable for them.

He added: "Computer games are often perceived as solely a distraction to learning, however, alongside traditional learning aids, they can help make learning more engaging.

"And parents and teachers across the country are starting to see the benefits they can have."

Dr Miller has conducted studies on the effects of brain-training games on learning.

He said: "Computer games are part of our culture and, while we may have concerns about aspects of some popular games, many have huge potential for supporting learning."

"The motivation evident when young people are 'in the zone' of game-playing is something we can and should tap into for education.

Dr Miller added: "While parents and teachers need to make sensible choices about the games they encourage young people to play, what is clear is that many games have tremendous learning potential."

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