If you’ve ever forgotten why you walked into a room or lost track of your thoughts mid-sentence, you may be in search of an activity that can strengthen your noggin. Brain training games and apps are an increasingly popular pastime, but do they really help to improve mental fitness? The brain is a complicated organ, and so is that question.
Research is still being done to fully understand the effectiveness of brain training games. The team at the Brain Game Center at the University of California in Riverside, for instance, is working extensively to develop and test science-based games that aim to improve cognitive abilities, even inviting the public to participate in studies. However, experiments yield mixed results.
While there is still no definitive conclusion on exactly how or if games can help to strengthen brain skills, these apps are all rooted in science. Studies show that regularly challenging your mind keeps it sharp, and games can certainly be part of that.
Mobile Brain Games for a Cognitive Workout
Peak (free for iOS and Android)
Peak is one of the top players when it comes to brain training apps. Rated as one of the best apps by Google, Peak keeps things interesting by focusing on short, intense “mental workouts.” The app was developed using the neuroscience and cognitive research of Yale and Cambridge’s top minds. In addition to the usual brain training areas like agility and problem solving, Peak has unique training modules for creativity, language and even emotional intelligence. The app also includes a virtual coach, which comes in handy to boost motivation!
Lumosity (free for iOS and Android)
Lumosity, one of the first brain training apps, was launched more than a decade ago. This comprehensive brain training platform is still at the top of its game and boasts tens of millions of users today. Lumosity is known for its large library of fun, visually pleasing, well-designed games, which includes a variety of scenarios to boost your brainpower.
For instance, one game has you play as a penguin trying to navigate a quickly rotating maze, which engages your spatial orientation skills. Another popular game, “Playing Koi,” tasks you with feeding identical koi fish in a pond; you must keep track of which fish you’ve already fed as they swim around the tank, which tests your ability to maintain divided attention.
Lumosity is consistently updated, and new games are added to the library frequently. Like others on this list, Lumosity works with scientists to develop their top-notch games.
Brain Apps for an IQ Boost
Mensa Brain Training (free for iOS)
Mensa Brain Training is unique because it’s developed by a membership-only, high IQ society. That being said, anyone is free to download the Mensa app and start using their exercises. Like other apps, activities are designed to improve your memory, mental agility and other cognitive aspects, but each activity is also designed to enhance your IQ.
For those looking for a more definitive and well-respected marker of intelligence, Mensa’s app is a great choice. You’ll be able to check your Mensa Brain Index (MBI) to see how your cognitive abilities improve over time and compare your stats to the global percentile. While this might seem intimidating for some, it’s a must for anyone who wants more insight into how brain training is impacting their intelligence.
HighIQPro for iOS and Android ($29.99-39.99)
Unlike many other brain training apps, HighIQPro requires a fee to get started. While it might seem like a lot, it’s a one-time fee for lifetime access, so depending on what you’re looking for, it may be more economical than making in-app or ad-free purchases on another platform.
Like Mensa’s app, HighIQPro has one main goal: to grow your IQ and provide measurable, reliable data. The app even includes in-app, standardized IQ tests. However, don’t expect the fun activities and flashy effects of other mobile brain training apps; this platform is focused simply on barebones methods to improve your working intelligence as efficiently as possible.
Unique Brain Training Apps
Elevate (free for iOS and Android)
Chosen as Apple’s “App of the Year,” Elevate is one of the most popular brain training apps, and for good reason – the app incorporates sleek, user-friendly design with a unique approach and engaging gaming. While its two big competitors, Lumosity and Peak, focus mainly on cognitive development, Elevate stakes out its own place by providing gamers with more academic-oriented learning modules. With its generous game library, Elevate users can improve their reading, math and speaking skills.
While cognitive development is something many look for in a brain training app, some gamers desire something a little more concrete and actionable. Elevate emphasizes that their platform helps users grow their earning power and productivity, which are definite boosts in today’s competitive professional world. Within a short time, users can start to see real world improvements in their skills.
Memorado (free for iOS and Android)
With over a million users, Memorado is an up-and-coming app that builds on cognitive research to help users grow their brain power. As the name suggests, it’s an especially useful app when it comes to boosting your working memory. But this app doesn’t just tackle cognitive development with gameplay; you’ll also have access to more than a hundred meditation modules to keep your mind calm and adaptable, along with resources to help you get a better night’s sleep.
While the effects of meditation and relaxation on your brain might be subtler, Memorado’s emphasis on this other side of brain training sets it apart from its competitors.
If you’re someone with a competitive spirit, Brain Wars will likely be your favorite brain training app. While many training apps focus on building your brainpower with solitary exercises and tracking your individual stats, Brain Wars emphasizes competing with others in a test of intelligence.
As it turns out, a little healthy competition can go a long way in increasing training motivation and consistency. While the games and graphics are on the simpler side, this makes it easier for everyone to pick up quickly. You can play with your loved ones, or with anyone else around the world using the app.
Which mobile brain games would you like to play? Tell us in the comments.