Give your grey matter a workout with these apps designed to boost your memory and sharpen mental skills.
Text 1Amanda Jayne Lee Illustration 123RF.com
COGNITO: BRAIN TRAINING GAMES Free, from the Apple App Store. In-app purchases from $4.48.
This app struck the best balance between cognitive skills training and fun. Players assume the profile of a spy in training, and progress through a story by completing three missions a day.
Each mission is designed to increase a cognitive skill, such as memory, adaptability to changing rules, reasoning and speed – all necessary for a spy, of course!
The game’s narrative structure kept me playing, and the beautiful graphics and entertaining games motivated me to improve my score. I could also compete with friends in a shoot-out for cognitive supremacy.
VERDICT: Entertaining and educational – what a perfect brain training app should be.
ELEVATE – BRAIN TRAINING Free, from Apple App Store and Google Play. In-app purchases from $4.48.
Unlike the others here, Elevate is training-focused. The interface and the games are simple and to the point. Each game is a thinly-veiled “fun” activity that's like a short English or maths multiple-choice session.
There is a large emphasis on language skills, including a time-based activity with a series of sentences riddled with redundant words that you tap to remove.
I liked how short and to the point the games were. This illustrated clearly the specific skills one had to hone. I also liked the twominute pre-training test. It showed me what to expect in upcoming games and gave me a benchmark to work towards.
VERDICT: For the serious learner wanting to improve maths, vocabulary and grammar
BRAIN WARS: COMPETITIVE BRAIN TRAINING GAME Free, from Apple App Store and Google Play. In-app purchases from $2.98.
The app goes out of its way to hide the learning elements that actually work your brain by pitting you against strangers in a match of three random games.
These were challenging, and the element of competition pushed me to work harder. One tested my focus with a stack of cards that had symbols. I had to swipe the ones with the same symbols in the same direction, and then quickly swipe in another direction when a different symbol appeared. The simple interface made it enjoyable to play.
VERDICT: A fun app that makes brain-training a friendly, social and competitive game.
PEAK Free, from Apple App Store and Google Play. In-app purchases from $2.98.
Only a handful of games are available on the free version, and I was a little disappointed by how slow and easy they were when I first started playing them. But the more I played, the harder the games became.
I liked one missile targeting game in particular: Tiny missiles with letters on them flew out from different sides of the screen and I had to direct them to targets to form words. The more I played, the quicker the missiles moved and the longer the words I had to form became. The only trouble? To raise the point of difficulty, I needed to invest in a lot more playing time.
The app also gives you the option to add advanced training for skills like sharpening your memory, solving problems and thinking creatively.
VERDICT: A comprehensive but time-consuming app with a lot of potential.