It’s no secret that brain function decreases with age. Studies have shown that cognitive function can be maintained by keeping your brain active, especially as you get older.
Brain training is based upon the idea that mental stimulation can increase neuroplasticity. This refers to the brain’s ability to form and reorganize brain connections in response to new tasks.
Brain training is not just for young adults. The 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference presented research that found older adults who participated in ten one-hour brain training sessions over five weeks were 48 percent less likely to develop cognitive decline or dementia after 10 years.
These studies have led to the creation of hundreds of brain-training apps. Many of these apps claim to improve cognitive functions like learning and memory. There are so many options, but how can you choose the best one for you?
Lumosity – Colorful, fun
Lumosity has been referred to by many as “the original” brain training app and is used by over 85 million people worldwide. It features more than 50 fun and colorful minigames that help you improve your speed, memory, flexibility, problem-solving, and attention.
Lumosity games were created by more than 100 researchers around the globe. Their website also cites a study involving more than 4,700 adults, which found that brain training with Lumosity increased cognition more than crosswords.
We couldn’t resist the chance to test the app.
Sign-up requires you to take a “fit test”, which measures your speed, attention and memory by playing three different games.
After the games have been completed, users can see how their results compare to others in the same age bracket. This gives insight into areas of cognition that require the most attention.
Lumosity reminds you to do a daily brain “workout” each day.
Train of Thought is a game that focuses on attention. The goal of this game is to change the direction of train tracks to guide different colors of trains to their correct homes. This game was challenging for our concentration, although frustrating at times.
Luminosity is a great app for both adults and children. Many of the games, such as Highway Hazards (a driving game where you must move left or right to avoid road hazards), have a childlike appeal.
Lumosity can be downloaded for free on Android or iOS. However, upgrading to a premium subscription costs $11.99 per month or $59.99 over a year.
Elevate – Boosting productivity, earning power and self-confidence
Elevate is less popular than Lumosity, but it still holds the iPhone’s best iOS app of 2014. What makes it different?
This app contains more than 40 minigames designed to improve math and speaking skills and memory, attention, and processing speed.
Elevate, just like Lumosity, encourages daily brain training. This involves the completion of three or five games with the PRO version.
Elevate is more adult-friendly than other brain training apps. The minigames have a more serious approach and focus less on illustrations and more on text. Each game comes with a short description of the goal. For example, “stop mixing up frequently confused words” or “improve reading comprehension.”
Error Avoidance was a game that we enjoyed. It requires the user to either “keep” or “swap” two words within a text passage within a specified time. Example: “He made the cookie doe into a grazing dough.” The two words would then be swapped.
Peak: Flexible Training and Tracking
Google rated Peak as one of the top Android apps in 2016. It offers over 30 minigames that help with concentration, memory, problem-solving, and mental agility.
These games were created with scientists from respected universities around the world, including Yale University in Connecticut and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
There are many games, like Lumosity. They may be of interest to both children and adults. Turtle Traffic is a game of mental agility that challenges the user’s ability to navigate a turtle through water and find jellyfish.
A personalized workout plan is created based on baseline test results. However, the plan is not exclusive to the user. All games can be played at any time in the Pro version.
Peak can be downloaded for free on Android or iOS. For $34.99, a 12-month subscription costs $4.99 and for $1.99, a 1 month subscription costs $4.99.
Fit Brains: Targeting emotional intelligence
Fit Brains was created by Rosetta Stone, an education technology software company that is best known for its online language courses.
This brain training app has the most variety with over 60 minigames, and more than 500 customized training programs. These games were created with the help of neuroscientists to improve cognitive function such as concentration, memory, speed, thinking, and problem-solving.
CogniFit – For scientists, consumers, and clinicians
CogniFit may be the most advanced brain training app that we reviewed. It contains a number of minigames that are designed to improve short-term memory, planning, coordination and auditory perception. CogniFit developers want to emphasize that all of their brain-training tools have been tested by scientists, including researchers at the University of Washington and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. They also state that their tools’ effectiveness has been proven through studies in the general population.
Reaction Field was a game we loved. It tests reaction time, visual scanning and inhibition. This is how you can control your impulsive behavior. Similar to Whac-a-Mole, this game requires the user to recall the color of a mouse and tap on the moles that appear from the ground.
The Lumosity Performance Index is a tool that assesses cognitive performance. It is calculated from the average score of all games played. You can also compare your performance with other users, just like the other brain training apps.
CogniFit can be downloaded for free on Android or iOS. Premium upgrades cost $19.99 per month or $189.99 per year.