Five of the best apps for brain training

Research has suggested that brain training may be beneficial for cognitive functioning.

As we age, our brain function declines. However, studies have shown that keeping mentally active – particularly when older – can help to maintain cognitive functioning. There are a lot of brain training apps useful for mental stimulation.
brain training apps
Research has suggested that brain training may be beneficial for cognitive functioning.
These apps hinge on the premise that mental stimulation can improve the brain’s ability to form and reorganize connections between brain cells in response to new tasks.

Some studies have failed to find a link between brain training and improved cognitive functioning. However, other research shows otherwise.

A study published in PLOS One in 2013, for example, found that young adults who engaged in brain training games demonstrated improvements in brain processing speed, working memory, and executive functions.

Research presented at the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found that older adults who took part in brain training sessions were significantly less likely to develop cognitive decline or dementia over 10 years.

Here are five of the best brain training apps around:

Lumosity

Considered by many as the “original” brain training app, Lumosity appeals to more than 85 million people across the globe. The app consists of more than 50 colorful and fun minigames designed to train five cognitive functions: speed, memory, attention, flexibility, and problem-solving.

Lumosity’s games have been created with the help of more than 100 researchers from around the world. Furthermore, their website cites a study of more than 4,700 adults that found that brain training with Lumosity improved cognition more than crosswords.

[Lumosity iOS image]
Lumosity has more than 85 million users worldwide. Image credit: Lumosity
At sign-up, you need to complete a “fit test,” which calibrates your speed, attention, and memory through three separate games.

Once the games are complete, users are shown how their results compare with those of other users in the same age group. This provides insight into the areas of cognition that require the most attention.

The daily brain “workout” involves playing three minigames – five with the premium version – each focusing on the five cognitive functions.

A particularly interesting game was Train of Thought, which focuses on attention. Here, the user must change the direction of train tracks, aiming to guide different colored trains to the correct home. This game really challenges one’s concentration – although it could be frustrating at times.

Lumosity is free to download on Android and iOS, though upgrading to a premium subscription costs $11.99 per month or $59.99 for 1 year.

Elevate

While Elevate has fewer users than Lumosity, at 10 million downloads worldwide, it holds the title of iPhone’s best app of the year for 2014.

[Elevate app]
Elevate consists of more than 40 minigames designed to boost a variety of cognitive skills. Image credit: Elevate

The app consists of more than 40 minigames designed to boost math and speaking skills, as well as improve memory, attention, and processing speed.

According to the app’s creators, “the more you train with Elevate, the more you’ll improve critical cognitive skills designed to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence.”

Elevate has more of an adult feel than many of the other brain training apps; the minigames take a more serious approach, focusing less on colorful illustrations and more on text. Each game also comes with a brief description of its goal, such as “stop mixing up commonly confused words” and “improve your reading comprehension.”

Elevate provides a daily, weekly, and monthly rundown of overall performance, as well as performance in five specific areas: writing, listening, speaking, reading, and math. If you’re feeling competitive, you have the option of comparing your performance with that of other users in the same age group.

Elevate is available to download for free on both Android and iOS. Upgrading to PRO costs $4.99 for 1 month or $39.99 for a year.

Peak

Rated by Google as one of the best Android apps for 2016, Peak offers more than 30 minigames to help improve concentration, memory, mental agility, language, and problem-solving.

[Peak app]
Peak’s brain training games created with the help of researchers from Yale and other universities. Image credit: Peak
These games have been developed with the help of scientists from respectable universities across the globe, including Yale University in Connecticut and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Like Lumosity, there are a number of games that may appeal to children and adults alike. One such game is Turtle Traffic. It is a mental agility game that requires the user to navigate a turtle through the sea and collect jellyfish.

Based on performance in baseline tests, a personalized workout plan is provided, although the user is not limited to this plan. In the “Pro” version, all games are available to play at any time.

Cognitive performance is also very easy to track. The app provides information on individual game performance. It also provides data on overall performance in each of the five cognitive functions. Similar to the other brain training apps, you are also able to compare performance with other users.

Peak is available to download for free on Android and iOS. A 12-month subscription starts from $34.99, while 1 month starts from $4.99.

Fit Brains

This app boasts the largest variety, with more than 60 minigames and more than 500 personalized training programs.
[Fit brains app]
Fit Brains offers more than 60 minigames to help improve cognitive functioning. Image credit: Fit Brains
With the input of neuroscientists, these games help exercise key cognitive functions, including concentration, memory, speed of thinking, and problem-solving.

What sets Fit Brains apart from other brain training apps, however, is that it also targets emotional intelligence. through games that focus on social skills, social awareness, self-awareness, and self-control.

Speedy Sorts tests thinking speed by asking the user to arrange objects into the correct piles quickly. The app compares individual results with those of other users.

The app also has a school edition – a brain training package that aims to boost the cognitive functions of schoolchildren.

It is free to download on Android and iOS. An upgrade to premium costs $9.99 for a month and $49.99 for a year.

CogniFit

Image result for cognifit app
CogniFit provides tools that researchers and healthcare professionals can use to assess cognitive functioning in patients. Image credit: CogniFit

CogniFit is highly advanced brain training app, consisting of minigames designed to train more than 20 cognitive skills. These include short-term memory, planning, hand-eye coordination, and auditory perception.

The CogniFit developers are keen to point out that all of their brain training tools have been validated by scientists. They include researchers from the University of Washington and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Furthermore, they state that the efficacy of their tools has been established through general population studies.

Interestingly, CogniFit also offers tools that researchers and healthcare professionals can use to study and assess cognitive function in patients.

Reaction Field tests response time, visual scanning, and inhibition – which is the ability to control impulsive behavior. Like the other brain training apps, you can also compare your performance against that of other users.

CogniFit is available to download for free on Android and iOS. A premium upgrade costs $19.99 for 1 month or $189.99 for a year.

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