Mind sharpening apps and games

Mind sharpening apps and games - Lovefone, London

According to reporting by The Atlantic, brain-exercise apps are on the rise, but the evidence behind their utility is weak. In the same report, The Atlantic had seven psychologists analyse rigorous studies of some of the most popular so-called brain-training apps like BrainHQ and Cogmed, and found the results “wanting.” 

This is not surprising on the heels of a major lawsuit that hit Lumosity, an app that touted some very specific claims about how their brain-training app could increase neuroplasticity and help you with cognitive function for unrelated tasks. Lumosity was actually forced to pay $2 million (£1.6 million) for such false-advertising. 

Apps that are meant to sharpen your brain with simple exercises are often not as effective as they claim to be. Here are a few apps that will give you a mental workout.

Seven apps to actually sharpen your mind

“Brain-training” aside, while playing any sort of game that requires a ton of focus and quick decision making will sharpen your mind and increase cognitive function, you may not actually learn anything new or tangible from getting really good at League of Legends or Candy Crush. Here are some apps that will actually leave you knowing more than you did before:



    If you’ve tried to learn another language, you know it is a huge mental task. Work out the language centre of your brain with this super-popular language app.

    Khan Academy

      Khan Academy

        Learn math, and more with Khan Academy! Not just speedy primary school problems.


          Stitcher Radio

            Stitcher and Apple’s Podcasts app — These are more engaging than listening to music, and you might learn something if you subscribe to news, history, or science shows.



                Listening to an audiobook could teach you a lot more than listening to the newest Strokes album. Download Audible here.

                Quit That!

                    Quit That! iOS

                    Keep track of ending brain-numbing bad habits like mindless Facebook or Reddit browsing with Quit That!.


                      Quizlet iOS

                      Quizlet let’s you create your own flashcard-type mini quizzes whether you’re studying relevant work material or for that university quiz.


                      Peak iOS

                      Peak is a simple app that provides you with quick spelling, math, and problem-solving challenges. If you are a fan of word-searches, Sudoku, and little exercises like that, Peak is a great app to visit every day.

                      While any game, app, or interactive activity can help keep a mind from stagnation (and help deter or delay the effects of alzheimer's), apps explicitly designed to help your “mental focus” and other general “brainpower increasing” claims like Lumosity fraudulently boasted, are, well, exactly that. More misleading than based in science.

                      The lesson here is not to allow yourself to veg out in front of TV screens instead of trying to keep your mind sharp with mentally straining activities—quite the opposite. A good game will give you all the benefit of that “brain-training” app you heard about, so why not enjoy your break with a nice game of Angry Birds, instead of stressing out doing lightning-speed long division games.

                      December 01, 2016
                      Andrew Hendricks