There’s an old saying, “use it or lose it” and when it comes to keeping the mind sharp and agile, many experts agree, the more we challenge our brains, the better. According to Medicare.org, “It’s believed that the key to a sharper mind primarily boils down to four things: keeping your mind active by learning something new, switching up your routine, taking care of your body through a healthy diet and exercise, and if you play brain games, selecting those that are clinically proven to work.” But where are those brain games and exercises that show promise? Here’s a list of some of the most tried and true.
BrainHQ.com is a cognitive training website by Posit Science that provides scientifically developed brain exercises “proven to change cognitive function in dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers.” Users can choose from a variety of exercises for “attention, brain speed, memory, people skills, navigation, and intelligence” or they can design a program to meet specific needs or desires. Anyone can try BrainHQ for free or through a monthly or yearly subscription. The app is available for Apple and Android devices.
Lumosity.com is also based on scientific research, including one randomized trial involving 4,715 participants that showed more than twice the cognitive improvement in the test group over the control group. Brain game topics include speed, memory, attention, flexibility, problem solving, word, and math and it’s easy to browse and choose the games that best suit each individual. Sign up is free for up to three games per day or subscriptions are available. The app is available for Apple and Android devices.
Peak is an app developed in conjunction with experts at New York University, Cambridge University and University College London. Designed to challenge memory, attention and problem solving, Peak brain games can be accessed on a phone or tablet anytime and anywhere on both Apple or Android devices and include a “coach” to define and track goals.
Elevate is a cognitive training app, that is based on a study that showed, “Elevate users improved 69% more than non-users, and the more they played Elevate, the better their results.” The app offers unlimited access to more than 35 games for math, speaking, reading, and writing. Users can customize daily training and measure performance as well. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.
CogniFit.com is a subscription brain training app for Android and Apple devices that helps assess areas of cognitive decline and ways to improve them. Assessments are general as well as specific (including for ADHD, depression, Parkinson’s, and more) and training programs offered can be chosen based on age, skill or condition. Results of using CogniFit have been presented in neuroscience studies at universities around the world including in the United States, Australia, Norway, and Israel, and one by the U.S. Navy.
BrainTurk.com offers apps that are being used by researchers in a variety of ways to help build cognitive health across different demographics. Users can quickly access six free games (no sign-up required) or they can register for a free account. The free BrainTurk Lite app includes games for attention, memory, focus, math, word, and mindful meditation, while the very inexpensive BrainTurk Peak Training app offers more than 40 similar games. Both are available for Android and Apple devices while three other apps are available for Apple only.
Memorado is based in Germany and launched the Global Cognition Initiative which helps connect scientists and other neuroscience experts around the world in “an open-source, collaborative research initiative” on cognition. Memorado is personalized according to training goals, assessment testing and a training schedule. The 20+ games cover speed, concentration, memory, reaction, and logic, and can be played on a computer by signing up for free. An app is also available free for Apple and Android devices.
For those who just want to play games for fun and aren’t concerned with how much research is behind them, there are many to choose from. Try these links for a wide variety from different resources:
- 10 Fun Games for Seniors from Philips Lifeline
- 81 Top Games for Seniors and the Elderly: Fun for All Abilities from greatseniorliving.com
- Games from AARP
- 32 Best Mobile Games for Parents, Senior & the Elderly – iOS and Android Games from Being Tech Savvy
- 20+ Games for People Living with Dementia from GoldenCarers.com
- Memory Games from BrightFocus® Foundation
Right now, more than ever, keeping a clear mind will help each of us get through the pandemic safely. By making a daily commitment to challenging our brains to try harder, we can improve our lives, even as we wait to get back to normal. Have fun, stay home, stay safe!