Feel like your mind needs a workout? All it takes is the right apps and a few minutes each day to give your grey matter the brain training it deserves...
Ever feel like you’re getting… Slower? If you think the whole commute-work-commute-bed grind is having a negative effect on your brain, you’re not alone; research says that the difference between a fully-functioning mind and full-on senility is only about 100 milliseconds of brain speed, and we lose around a tenth of that speed per decade from age 20 onwards. The good news? There is a way to help reverse this grey matter shedding, and the answer lies in brain training apps.
Much like physical exercise, if you put your mind to work on various puzzles for a few minutes each day, science says you’ll increase your brain strength. Brain training exercises improve ‘fluid intelligence’ (that includes things like pattern recognition, reasoning and learning), can help take years off your slow cognitive decline, and make you feel altogether like a much smarter cookie. Want to feel like a genius? Look no further than the apps below…
Lumosity | iOS, Android (free + IAP)
With a user base of some 70 million people globally and an army of top scientists at their disposal, Lumosity is serious about brain training. At its core is a myriad scientific tests, each one designed by pro game designers to be actually fun – just complete a set number each day and track your progress over time, much like you would with a regular fitness app. What’s more, the Lumosity boffins are constantly running research studies with user data to prove and improve the background sciencey stuff.
NueroNation | iOS, Android (free + IAP)
Got ten minutes? Then you’ve got enough time to do NueroNation’s daily brain training, which could very well improve your “ability to process information quickly, make rational decisions and ignore distractions.” Once you’ve done your daily routine you can check out your stats, see how you’re doing compared to your friends, or see how you stack up with others of your age. Its tests aim to help you in four key areas: numeracy, memory, reasoning, perception, and memory. Actually, maybe we should give it a go.
Elevate | iOS, Android (free + IAP)
Another app backed by, and made in partnership with, top neuroscientists, Elevate asks you to pick the attributes you’d most like to improve from a long list including things like focus, name recall, clarity, comprehension and information retention. Once you’ve done that, it’ll create a personalised regime for you to follow for five days out of every week, with tests and games based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Peak | iOS, Android (free + IAP)
With a couple of different app store awards to its name, Peak is an extremely polished brain trainer that focusses on short, sharp bursts of hardcore mental aerobics – like HIIT for your mind. The challenges are fun games rather than boring tests, and have all been created with the help of scientists at Cambridge, UCL and King’s College London. The best bit, though, is ‘Coach’ – a little AI personal trainer that lives inside the app, and which provides tailored motivational messages and challenges along your journey.
Wizard (Part of Peak) | iOS, Android (£6.39)
Problems remembering the little things? The advanced training programme called Wizard, available as an in-app purchase in Peak, is well worth your time. It’s a standalone game that’s been designed from the ground up specifically to target short term memory in patients who have trouble keeping names, dates and recent events in mind.
Eidetic | iOS, Android (free + IAP)
If you’ve played through Wizard and still feel like your memory needs a tune up, Eidetic may be the app for you. It takes the theory of ‘spaced repetition’ to test you at intervals with decent chunks of space in between. Allow the app to send you push notifications and it’ll prompt you throughout the week to recall that phone number it showed your earlier, or a specific quote, fact, stat or dictionary entry. Complete enough of these challenges over time and you should find your ability to retain new information increasing no end.
Fit Brains | iOS, Android (free + IAP)
Like some of the others here, Fit Brains has a big roster of games (over 60, to be exact), the ability to compare yourself to others in your age group, a variety of attributes to target, and has been built with the help of neuroscientists. Where it differs is that, on top of training things like your memory and cognition, Fit Brains wants to help grow your emotional intelligence, too. Games made to specifically help you improve your social skills, self-awareness and self-control should help you become the life of the party.
CogniFit Brain Training | iOS, Android (free + IAP)
If you can’t find the time to commit to brain training every day, Cognifit’s got you covered. Its plan only requires 20 minutes, three times a week, and features 25 different cognition-challenging games. As with the other apps, you’ll see your cognitive score improve across a wealth of different skills as you progress, and you can keep an eye on your broader stats on the online dashboard on your computer, too. Looking for credentials? The app’s mind-mending merit has been verified by no fewer than eight top US universities.
Get more great apps… Click here to check out our pick of this month’s best new and recently updated apps.