Come up with an idea for anything these days and someone’s going to say, “There’s an app for that!” But is it a good app? There are a lot of fakers out there and the wellness industry is flooded with products that claim the world, but deliver precious little. So, if you’re sceptical about brain-training apps, I don’t blame you. All the same, proven brain-training apps would be a great asset for any gamer, whether you’re into pokies, poker or Pokemon. Fortunately, an Australian report has found five scientifically proven apps you can count on to deliver results. Try them all and you will surely hone your mind and raise your game.
Backed by science
At the top of the list of science-backed brain training apps, the Cognifit Brain Fitness app uses fun and addictive games designed by neuroscientists to train your brain and improve your memory and concentration. You can track your progress and learn more about your brain health. It starts with a quiz that profiles areas where you are challenged, and recommends games based on your abilities. You can get your friends involved with competitive games. You will need to have two or three 20-minute sessions a week to see improvement. Cognifit is classified as a Level One program by Neuropsychology Review because it is backed by “at least two well-designed randomised controlled trials, one of which was of high-quality design”. One of the authors describes it as follows, “Exercises from Cognifit contain 21 different tasks. In one of the tasks, a hot-air balloon flies in the sky. On its way, it lands on different clouds. The user has to remember and reproduce its exact route. In another task, a letter grid appears in the centre of the screen. A picture of a well-known object appears in the lower left corner of the screen and the user has to find the name of this object spelled out in the letter grid.”
You can get the Cognifit Brain Fitness app in the App Store and Google Play.
Neuroscience on demand
Also a Level One program, the BrainHQ online brain training app was also created by a team of neuroscientists. The exercises give you problems to solve and adjust the level of difficulty depending on how well you are doing. For example, you could be asked to match pairs of syllables that can easily be confused. Further examples are putting verbal instructions back into sequence or listening to a story and identifying details from memory afterwards. There are also exercises that engage your visual imagination, like a gardening game where you have to match pictures to grow your plants. Not only does BrainHQ deliver cognitive benefits like better memory and faster processing, but it also helps with real-life situations, like safer driving and better hearing in noisy places.
You can access BrainHQ online or via the App Store and Google Play.
Level 2 apps are less scientifically solid because they are “supported by only one randomised controlled trial of high-quality design” – but that doesn’t stop them from being fun! Three apps in this category are MyBrainTrainer, Brain Age 2 and Cogmed.
The “world’s first and best virtual mental gymnasium”, MyBrainTrainer lets you build your mind muscle with a set of sixteen mental challenges. Access it from the MyBrainTrainer website.
Brain Age 2 is a genuine game developed for the Nintendo DS platform. Start by taking a test to determine how old or young your brain is, relatively speaking, then play the game to sharpen your mind and make your brain “younger”.
Finally, Cogmed also uses a range of programs to help improve your memory, but it also comes with the support of a coach. It’s also available for Apple and Android.
An app that the study didn’t review – because it’s not specifically designed as a brain-training app – is Duolingo. It’s the world’s most popular language-learning platform and most downloaded education app. Duolingo applies gamification to language learning (in other words, it’s fun!) and is backed by science, so why not give it a try? According to the Eton Institute, learning another language boosts brain power, memory, multi-tasking, decision-making, academic performance, networking and career choices! If that seems like a lot to remember – download one of the brain-training apps in this article right away!