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North Hills Monthly

Keep Your Brain hAPPy With the Latest Brain Training Games

Sep 24, 2019 10:26PM ● By Jennifer Monahan

Brain training apps are all the rage, despite some disagreement among researchers about whether a brain can be trained to function differently—as opposed to getting better at skills through repetition and familiarity. Either way, brain game apps are fun, challenging and users might learn a thing or two. 

Elevate is a popular app with high ratings from users and an “editor’s choice” recommendation from Apple. When the user creates an account, the app prompts a few questions about individual goals for improvement and provides a quick evaluation to gauge the user’s current skill level. Although the basic app is free, users should be wary of the paid-subscription prompts that pop up upon registering, finishing a level or hitting daily limits on usage of the free membership. Aside from the virtual nagging, however, Elevate is a fantastic app. It offers activities to improve writing, mental math, reading comprehension and speed, memory and processing. The free features are fun and challenging; the app allows for about five to 10 minutes of skills practice daily without upgrading to a paid subscription. Regardless of whether the user actually gains IQ points, grammar skills, vocabulary and the ability to mentally calculate a restaurant tip without the use of a device are likely to improve. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

The CogniFit app aims to exercise the brain just like people exercise their bodies. Its brain games focus on improving memory, reasoning, attention, concentration and mental agility. Unique among brain games apps, CogniFit’s introductory assessment takes about 40 minutes to complete and includes a range of questions about overall health and wellness as well as mental fitness. After completing the initial questionnaire, users perform a series of tasks like remembering numbers in increasingly longer series, choosing the larger of two shapes and tapping the screen quickly to establish dexterity. The app’s developers state that the games were developed by neuroscience experts, and the CogniFit website lists a host of peer-reviewed scientific articles to support its claims to be a legitimate and effective brain-training tool. Reviewers give the app high marks for the activities and for accurately assessing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. While some reviewers criticize earlier versions of the app for being glitchy, CogniFit’s customer service team is remarkably responsive to both customer contacts and even customer reviews on Google Play and the App Store. CogniFit stands out as the app most likely to improve brain function. The paid subscription is pricey, but the free version allows users to try the app out before making a commitment. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

Memorado takes a whole-brain-health approach, offering short audio relaxation sessions as well as games to help users improve memory and cognitive skills. The games are engaging enough to compete with the likes of Angry Birds or Flow, but with the added satisfaction of sharpening your brain. The free version has activities to improve the brain’s concentration, memory, speed, reaction and logic. The app’s developers state that an in-house team of neuroscientists developed the games, and reviewers give the app high marks for offering so many games without having to pay for a premium membership. The directions are clear and easy to follow, and the mindfulness and relaxation options are an awesome bonus. Audio sessions include categories such as sleep clinic, relief, commute, kids, holidays and calm moments. Among brain training apps, this one rises to the top as being the most user-friendly and enjoyable. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

Among the best-known brain training apps, Lumosity begins with a 10-minute brain fitness test and personalizes activities to help users improve memory, logic, problem-solving, language and math. The games are brief and visually appealing. Users work through a series of challenges to unlock the next level, and the free version of the app allows for three games per day that can be played repeatedly. Lumosity is a solid choice worth downloading for the variety of its activities. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

Next time you are stuck in a waiting room at the dentist’s office, test out a couple of these apps. More fun than sifting through email and more edifying than perusing funny cat memes on Pinterest, brain training apps might even make you a little smarter.