On the train? Stuck at a red signal? finished your coffee? Fear not!
We’ve shortlisted 5 great brain training apps to help sharpen up your noggin and keep yourself busy.
The premise for this is a range of games, including Lost in Migration, in which a flock of five birds appears and you have to swipe in the direction the middle bird is flying. Each is tailored to a specific skill that you have identified as one of your goals for improvement. These include areas such as working memory, verbal fluency, selective attention, field of view and task switching. By completing a set of games each day, you can train your brain to improve in these areas and apply your new skills to everyday life.
Before you can begin you need to take what’s called a Fit Test to calibrate your starting ability in a range of characteristics including speed, attention and memory. Once set up and following a questionnaire about what you wish to achieve, games hone these skills and users report improvements over time. The app has millions of users, many of whom feel that the games have helped to improve their cognitive function over time.
Price: Free for limited games. Upgrading to Premium costs £10.95 per month or £4 per month if you pay upfront for a year’s subscription
Platform: iOS, Android, PC
This isn’t a games based app as such, but rather it works with your phone to send you tests to help you memorise important facts. You can set up a Do Not Disturb feature to ensure that you don’t get sent such reminders at inconvenient times, such as when you’re getting that all important brain-regenerative sleep. So whether you’re a student trying to memorise quotes word for word, or someone who writes down passwords and pin numbers because they always forget what they’ve set up, this is an app that can help.
Eidetic works by using items that have some kind of personal connection to you, such as phone numbers or song lyrics. Basically it offers a technique known as spaced repetition to help you memorise such important details. This could be done without an app, but the memory jogging reminders force you to practise remembering the fact you’ve chosen – before you forget all about it and realise it’s gone for good.
Price: Free for one fact, price increases to £2.29 for the facility to test yourself on multiple facts
Games are varied, but have clear links to skills you’ll use in your work. Brevity, for instance, helps you cut out the waffle – tap the word in each sentence that you think doesn’t need to be there. In Processing, you’ll have words fired at you at 270wpm and then be asked to recall the facts you’ve been given. Each relies on either spoken or written text, unlike Lumosity which is focused on shapes and patterns. There are around sixteen free games and they alter, so you’re less likely to become bored playing the same game time after time.
As with Lumosity, you need to begin with a questionnaire and opening test so that you know where you’re starting from. After that, you can choose to play three, five or seven times a week, during which you’ll practise the skills you’ve identified as being important. As you improve, you can adjust levels of difficulty accordingly so there’s always an element of challenge to what you do.
Price: Free, though a premium version is available offering exclusive games and access to a member ranking feature
Platform: iOS, Google Play
4. Left Brain Right Brain
There are three basic games: Color Blend, Criss Cross and Speed Match. Each have thirty levels to progress through, building in difficulty. Color Blend works on sequencing; colours have to build in intensity in line with their neighbours. Criss Cross requires players to match pairs according to colour or word. Speed Match works against the clock and requires you to click a simple yes or no according to whether a shape matches the previous one.
This is a simple app which requires concentration. It works on the premise that the two sides of our brain function in different ways. Left is logical and symbolic while right is intuitive and holistic. While we use both, one will often be dominant. Using the app will require both sides of the brain to work together to figure out the puzzles and give you chance to improve your brain power.
Each day offers a different selection of games to test your brainpower. These include working out the odd one out in a series of colour-coded words, shape recognition and number puzzles amongst others. With names like Snowflake match, Tangram, Honeycomb Recall and Shape Sums you never quite know what you’re going to get, as you race against the clock to improve your score from the previous day.
This is a daily training app designed by the high IQ society Mensa. Industry experts have developed a set of exercises which focus on five main disciplines: memory, concentration, agility, perception and reasoning. At the end of the day’s exercises, you’ll receive a score which outlines the relative strength of each discipline and enables you to track your performance from day to day, as well as compare it to other players’ scores from across the globe.
Price: Free seven day trial available after which you need to buy the app. A one year subscription costs £5.99, quarterly £4.49.