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SCIENCE AND TECH

3 MIN

Train Your Brain: Eight Great Apps for Keeping Mentally Sharp

As a child and in adolescence, a person’s IQ changes variably depending on their environments – they’re learning mathematics, new words and how to gain control over their emotions. As one becomes older, IQ remains fairly stable. There are many questions surrounding the current popularity of brain-training technology; “Will this make me smarter?” people ask. But brain training isn’t only about increasing one’s IQ.

Teaching a child how to think ahead and plan can increase their skills in academics and other important facets of life – and the same goes for adults. Turns out, technology has come up with a way for us to practice using our brains in ways we might not normally get a chance to every day. From positivity and pattern recognition to memory and attention, here are the top eight apps that’ll help you train your brain.  

Elevate

Elevate is a mobile game which hones in on speaking, listening, writing and reading. The point is to improve your communication skills. You play the game by responding through voice or text; sometimes you’re reading a sentence and trying to spot the errors, other times you’re listening to passages and asked to recall key facts. The games are quick and entertaining, so you don’t feel like it’s English class all over again. The free version has 16 games, which change on a daily basis.
iOS, Apple Watch & Android

Lumosity

Lumosity aims to boost your core cognitive abilities like memory, attention and problem solving. It’s different from Elevate in that Lumosity uses objects, patterns and shapes to workout your brain. One game includes a set of brown tiles, which are flipped to reveal a pattern highlighted in a bright colour. You must memorize the bright tiles before the they flip back to brown, at which point you’re asked to recreate the pattern. The patterns become harder to memorize as the number of tiles increase during each round.
iOS, Apple Watch & Android

Fit Brains

Fit Brains is similar to Lumosity in that the mental agility exercises you partake in use objects within the games. Some activities include matching the tiles in a Mahjong game, finding pairs of shapes or deciding which number is highest among a set of three. The one downfall is that the free version of Fit Brains only gives you three free games a day. A monthly upgrade costs $7.95 per month gives you access to 60+ activities whenever you want.
iOS, Apple Watch & Android

BrainHQ

BrainHQ exercises are grouped into six main categories: speed, memory, people skills, attention, navigation and intelligence. It’s recommended that you begin doing the games within the category where you want to improve most. A brain speed exercise called Hawk Eye (admittedly difficult) asks you to spot the dark-coloured bird amongst a flock of light birds by recalling the area where it was flying. As you progress, you’re only able to see the birds for a quick flash, testing to your speed, attention and memory.
iOS 

Peak

Peak

Peak works in much the same way as Brain HQ, Fit Brains, Lumosity and Elevate, but there’s an added perk for Apple watch wearers, as you can perform your daily brain workouts directly from your wrist. Brain-training categories include language, focus, problem solving and mental agility. Peak’s word-find, math and block puzzles are fairly difficult, but anyone who is up for the challenge will surely enjoy it.
iOS, Apple Watch & Android

Eidetic

Speaking of memory, Eidetic is an app that allows you to remember everything from phone numbers or interesting words through space repetition. What is spaced repetition, you ask? It’s a learning technique that increases the amount of time spent between learned material. You input what you’d like to remember – fact, list, quote, note or even words from the app’s built-in dictionary – and Eidetic will periodically quiz you on the material
iOS & Apple Watch

Happify

Happiness is a habit and something you can develop. That’s what scientists and game programmers had in mind when they built Happify, the app that helps you live a more satisfying and fulfilling life. The activities are centred on thanking, savouring, aspiring, giving and empathizing, the five crucial skills for maintaining happiness. Each week has a new focus like “confidence,” and every few weeks you’re asked to measure your happiness so you can track your progress.
iOS & Android

Buddhify

The effects of meditation on relieving stress in proven. But where do you begin if you don’t know how to turn off that endless chatter in your mind? Enter Buddhify, the app that offers mindfulness tips, guided meditations and a timer (for when you’re ready to tackle meditation on your own). Whenever you’re ready to meditate – during your commute, when you’re in line at the bank or during your lunch break – all you have to do is pop in your headphones. The app even tracks your habits and shows you your mediation stats over time.
iOS & Android

Published Tuesday, December 8th 2015

Header image credit: Getty Images

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