Smartphones certainly have the ability to make our brains lazier by taking on some of the work they’ve traditionally been tasked with, but as technology evolves, the potential to create applications that can actually help our brains is developing.
Memory is one of the important functions of the brain, but the parts that control it simply do not have to work as hard in the cell phone era. Whether it be as simple as a recipe or as complex as the way to a loved one’s house, smartphones and the instant access to information they provide seem to have replaced much of our need to remember things.
Of course, when it comes to brain health, that need must be fulfilled, so now app developers are working with medical professionals to develop platforms that have the potential to help seniors fight back against cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference saw the unveiling of research which suggests that older adults who take part in ten hour long brain training sessions over a 5-week period are 48% less likely to develop cognitive decline or dementia over the decade that follows. If cognitive decline is a concern, you may want to consider downloading and using the following apps daily.
Designed by a team of scientists, this online brain training platform is designed by a team of neuroscientists. It uses an algorithm to adapt the difficulty level of exercises so that you train the brain at an ideal level for you and in a way that will be most likely to help you make cognitive improvements. Users have the ability to set up brain training goals, while the app can take care of reminders and progress tracking to help you hit your targets. The 29 built in exercises will help you work on attention, navigational skills, speed of thought, memory, problem solving and sociability.
With over 85 million users around the world, Lumosity is one of the oldest and most well-known brain training apps around. Boasting a colorful design, the app allows users to choose the skills they want to work on, with the app creating a workout around the selected skills. The user earns a score that is tracked so that the difficulty can increase along with performance. In all, the app includes more than 25 timed brain games, with performance analytics to help the user get a better grasp on strengths, weaknesses and methods for enhancing brain function.
Focused on productivity and self-confidence, Elevate uses more than 40 minigames that aim to improve math and language skills as well as the brain’s processing speed, memory and attention span. The approach of the app is slightly different to others, using a more serious, text heavy design and clearly defined goals. Users can view daily, weekly, and monthly performance reports in writing, listening, speaking, reading, and math. For those who thrive on competition, the app provides the option of measuring performance against other users in the same age group.
Using examinations of performance in baseline tests, Peak develops custom brain workout plans for the user, although you are not limited to this plan. The 30 minigames are aimed at improving focus, memory, mental agility, problem solving and language skills. Performance metrics are easy to monitor and the Coach feature provides valuable insights to help users track their progress. The creators of the app recommend completing training exercises three days per week.
Designed to train more than 20 different cognitive skills, Cognifit is a reasonably advanced brain training app. Skills include hand-eye coordination, short term memory, auditory perception, attention, planning and focus. The games are backed by developments in neuroscience and can help spot cognitive impairment through neuropsychological assessments and real-time monitoring. This allows users to track their cognitive health as it changes and compare the results to other healthy adults in their age group.
A Rosetta Stone product, Fit Brains uses guidance from the same psychologists and game designers that the company uses to inform and build its language teaching products. It exercises both cognitive and emotional intelligence and offers more than 60 games and 500 workout sessions that aim to improve function in memory, speed of thought, problem solving, language, concentration and spatial relationships. The emotional intelligence part is tested through activities which measure social skills, awareness and self-control. Like many of the other products on this list, it offers a scoring system so that users can see how they are doing relative to peers of the same age and gender.
For those in need of a completely free option, Brain Yoga can provide a simpler approach to brain training through games designed to improve pattern recognition, memory, spatial awareness, vocabulary and the ability to work with numbers. With eleven puzzle games, this app is simpler than the others and does not involve a scoring system or timed exercises and users don’t measure themselves against one another.