Keep Your Brain in Shape With These Apps
Many people spend a great deal of time in the gym working on our bodies, but can we say the same about our minds? Just like a healthy physical form, a healthy mind also needs to flex its mental muscles and get some exercise. In fact, there are studies that show playing puzzle games can help increase mental agility. Brain training apps combine the latest in brain science with puzzles and mind games to keep your wits sharp. Check out 15 of the best brain training apps on Android and iOS devices.
Elevate (Android, iOS: Free, with premium subscriptions)
Elevate (Android, iOS) is a freemium brain training app that allows users to train a variety of brain capabilities, such as listening, memory and comprehension. Part of Elevate's appeal is its focus on practical language and math skills, such as estimation, comparing values and name recall as well as reading and listening comprehension. Like many other brain training apps, Elevate takes a freemium route, providing free users with a variety of daily exercises, while premium subscribers gain access to a larger variety of exercises over the daily offerings.
Lumosity (Android, iOS: Free, with premium subscriptions)
Lumosity (Android, iOS) combines proven cognitive science techniques from the Human Cognition Project with a gamified approach to provide users with brain-training mini-games that are fun and effective at exercising your mental muscles. Users create a Lumosity account and then select particular mental faculties they want to exercise. Lumosity then creates customized daily exercise routines with mini-games built around those particular skills. The app tracks your scores, with the difficulty level of games adjusting to your performance, ensuring that you're always challenged. Free users can access a set of daily exercises, while subscribers gain access to a wider variety of exercises and more features.
Peak (Android, iOS: Free, with premium subscriptions)
Peak (Android, iOS) combines brain science and gamification to give users a full-spectrum brain workout, testing users' focus, memory, mental agility, problem solving and language skills with a variety of daily minigames and goals. As you exercise regularly, Peak provides users with a variety of performance metrics to rate your improvement over time. Free users get a selection of daily exercises, while premium subscribers gain access to the full range of exercises available on demand, as well as improved metrics and personalized training plans.
NeuroNation (Android, iOS: Free, with in-app purchases)
NeuroNation (Android, iOS) is another science-based brain training app that takes the gamified approach to exercising and improving your brain's faculties. Users sign up for a free NeuroNation account and then do a quick checklist and testing to set their goals and measure their aptitudes. NeuroNation users can practice with a variety of exercises that challenge your numeracy, memory, perception and reasoning. There are additional focused courses that zero in to exercise your memory, general intelligence and focus as premium content. NeuroNation offers expanded content that you can unlock through in-app purchases.
Fit Brains Trainer (Android, iOS: Free, with premium subscriptions)
Rosetta Stone's own entry into the brain training field is Fit Brains, an all-in-one brain training program. Fit Brains Trainer (Android, iOS) serves as the core of the program, featuring more than 360 games and training sessions designed to sharpen memory, concentration and other mental faculties. A scoring system allows users to track their performance in each mental skill relative to other users of the same age or gender. The app uses this performance data to dynamically assess and adjust the difficulty of its games relative to your progress.
CogniFit Brain Fitness (iOS: Free with premium subscriptions)
Like other programs, CogniFit Brain Fitness combines neuroscience and gamification to make mental exercises into a fun pastime. The CogniFit Brain Fitness app allows users to sign up and run through a series of exercises to assess their mental abilities and train further in fields such as memory, focus and attention. Users can take a personalized training track, or simply play one-off games. A neat feature is the ability to challenge your contacts to beat your performance, with Neurons (credits earned in-game or purchased) at stake for a bit of a competitive dimension.
BrainHQ (iOS: Free, with premium subscription)
BrainHQ is Posit Science's own take on the brain training app formula, delivering regular, daily brain workouts in the form of minigames and short puzzles, along with an adaptive difficulty system that keeps the app's puzzles at an appropriate challenge level to keep your brain sharp. BrainHQ's exercises offer a great mix, from traditional minigames such as pattern recognition and memory games to people skills like recognizing facial expressions and remembering names and faces at a glance. A free tier of exercises is available, with a wider variety available to premium subscribers.
Headspace (Android, iOS: Free, with premium subscription)
Headspace (Android, iOS) builds on scientifically proven meditation techniques to build health and happiness. The free app provides users with the basics of meditation and mindfulness training with a 10 x 10 (10 minutes everyday for 10 days) course, with more themed meditations for a variety of aims available to premium subscribers. The app tracks your progress, and allows you to set reminders. You can also download sessions for offline use.
Brain Yoga (Android, iOS: Free)
Brain Yoga presents users with a selection of logic puzzles and brain games in a more low-pressure format. Rather than focus on metrics and numbers to show how well or poorly you're performing, Brain Yoga takes a more meditative free play approach. Puzzles include memory games, pattern recognition, shapes, and pathing puzzles, with 10 configurable difficulty levels.The free app lets users get daily brain workouts (complete with notifications to keep you accountable), as well as the option to engage in practice games. An in-app purchase removes ads and lets you play unlimited games.
Duolingo (Android, iOS: Free)
Childhood is the best time to learn additional languages, given the pliability of young brains, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to pick up another language in later years. Duolingo (Android, iOS) is a free mobile app that gamifies the beginnings of language learning, helping its users build up the basics of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation through regular minigames. The minigames run through the gamut of language learning exercises, such as word identification, listening and pronunciation exercises, and short translations. Users can study a variety of European languages, such as Spanish, French, Italian and Russian.
Quizlet (Android, iOS: Free)
There are a whole slew of brain training apps that help you exercise various aspects of your mental faculties, but sometimes, you just want more focused exercises like flashcards that help you memorize certain pieces of information or quickly solve rote problems. The Quizlet app (Android, iOS) brings a wealth of user-generated flashcards right to your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to download a variety of custom flashcard decks covering everything from mathematics, geography, languages and more. The Quizlet app comes with a variety of testing modes, the ability to share flashcards, as well as the ability to create your own custom flashcards to update and share over the Internet. While less directed than more general brain trainers, it's a great tool for more focused exercises.
Eidetic (iOS: Free)
Rather than deliver an all-in-one brain training package, Eidetic focuses on one specific faculty: memory. Eidetic uses a flash card-style approach to help its users memorize everything from notes, lists, phone numbers, quotes and other useful real-life applications. The app includes a simple system for users to write down their own content in easy-to-use categories, allowing them to store and then memorize whatever's relevant. You simply set the intensity of memory training, from one day cramfests to a more sedate weekly period, and Eidetic automatically notifies you when it's a good time to practice.
Happify (iOS: Free, with premium subscriptions)
Not every brain training app focuses on sharpening your mental faculties to a razor's edge. Such apps as Happify focus on developing your emotional intelligence to build a positive outlook on life. Through short mini-games, quizzes, guided meditations and other activities, Happify aims to reinforce "happiness skills" such as thankfulness, empathy, giving and serenity. Free users gain access to a series of guided tracks aimed at a particular objective, such as coping with stress and self-confidence. Subscribers gain access to more activities, additional guided meditations and other features.
Pacifica (Android, iOS: Free, with premium subscription)
Another useful tool for training a positive mental outlook, de-stressing, avoiding negativity is Pacifica (Android, iOS). This habit-forming app teaches users to be mindful of their emotional well-being. A daily mood tracker is designed to help you log your emotional state, with text notes to help you review the things that set you off, make you happy or help you cope. Daily tasks such as guided meditations, thought analysis and other mini-activities use a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques help break the anxiety cycle and relax. Signing up to a premium subscription unlocks unlimited use of Pacifica's activities, as well as private messaging features.
ReliefLink (iOS: Free, with premium subscription)
While primarily intended as a suicide prevention and awareness app, ReliefLink also functions as a great mental health awareness tool. In addition to safety planning, reminders and emergency contacts, ReliefLink comes with a handy mood logging journal for easily recording how happy or down you feel as well as a selection of guided meditation, mindfulness training, relaxation techniques and relaxing music.