Your brain may not be a muscle in the literal sense of this word, but much like a muscle, it requires daily training to stay healthy and active. But things like daily stress and high levels of inflammation in the body can really mess with our brain function. The need for regular brain trending increases even further with age, as research shows how mental activities like learning new languages, brain puzzles, and meditation can all reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
What benefits can you expect from such activities? Research points towards improvements in memory, overall brain function, and cognitive plasticity (the brain’s ability to make new neural connections and learn new information). So, if you want to give mental activities a try or seek to expand your portfolio of such brain-boosting exercises, we’ve prepared a list of 8 phone apps you can download for free.
Sudoku is a classic number placement game that trains your short-term memory. The game consists of a 9x9 square grid. The grid is also divided into nine 3x3 squares. Each of these squares, rows, and columns need to be filled with the numbers 1-9, without repeating any of the numbers.
And while the rules of this game are rather simple, sudoku is by no means an easy game. The puzzle requires quite a lot of planning, short-term memory, and concentration. Depending on the difficulty of the game, a few of the numbers will be previously filled out for the player. We suggest that beginners start with easy games to get a good grip of the rules.
The easiest way to start playing Sudoku is to try it online. Here’s a link to a free sudoku website that also comes in the form of a free downloadable app.
Insight Timer is an excellent free meditation app. The app aims to reduce your stress levels, improve your sleep, and nurture your brain with the help of its many guided meditations, online courses and workshops, calming music, and even celebrity speakers like the iconic Goldie Hawn.
The standard version of the app is free to use, but the premium version costs $9.99 per month or $59.99 for a yearly subscription.
Related Article: 10 Amazing Meditation Apps For You to Try
Lumosity is one of the most long-established apps geared towards making a positive difference in cognitive health. The app offers a variety of fun mental fitness games, brain training activities, and tests geared towards all ages. These exercises target cognitive faculties like focus, memory, mental agility, processing speed, and your ability to do math calculations.
The app claims that users “improve memory, increase focus, and feel sharper” when they complete daily brain-training activities. You can download the app for free, track your progress, and complete three games every day. You may also upgrade to a paid subscription that costs $11.99 a month or a yearly fee of $59.99 to do all five daily puzzles offered by the app.
Elevate is another brain training app that offers a variety of daily minigames that target five specific cognitive skills: math, speaking, writing, listening, and reading. However, the app will also improve your memory, attention, and thinking speed.
The app has a very educational feel and a more serious and “adult” approach. Elevate consists of more than 40 types of minigames with specific goals, such as “improve your reading comprehension” or “stop mixing up commonly confused words.” The app also lets you track your progress and performance, and you can even compare your results with other players in your age group.
Similar to Lumosity, Elevate lets you play three free games, or upgrade to five games with a paid subscription that costs $4.99 per month or $39.99 for an annual subscription.
We love jigsaw puzzles! They’re super fun to do, but they also improve one’s visual-spatial reasoning, short-term memory, and they do wonders for stress reduction. But there’s one thing that really bugs us about puzzles; each box takes up so much space and ultimately clutter the home. Luckily, there’s a solution for that - puzzle apps. And the free Jigsaw Puzzle-Epic app is on top of our list.
The app contains more than 10,000 jigsaw puzzles for you to choose from, but it also allows you to turn any picture on your phone’s gallery into a jigsaw puzzle. Puzzles are divided across various difficulty levels, with the toughest ones consisting of 625 jigsaw pieces. What great fun!
Learning a foreign language has countless science-backed benefits, such as the prevention of cognitive decline, the improvement of multitasking and problem-solving skills, among others. So choosing a language-learning app like Duolingo can prove to be very useful. Duolingo is probably the most famous of such apps, and best of all, it’s also free.
The app gives you “bite-sized” language learning lessons and a game-like approach to make learning fun. Duolingo offers lessons in more than 35 languages, and you can either start a beginner's course or complete a quick language test to move to advanced lessons right away. Duolingo is free, but the app also offers a paid ‘pro’ version that allows you to access extra features.
Related Article: 7 Useful Online Tools For Learning a New Language
If you’re an advanced learner, CogniFit is probably the best brain-boosting app for you. It consists of a vast variety of games that tap into 20 essential cognitive skills. Auditory perception, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, and planning abilities are just a few of the skills you’ll be able to improve with this app. Many of the exercises featured in the app are based on scientific research and approved by scientists from establishments like the University of Washington and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Like many other brain-training apps we’ve featured earlier, CogniFit will also let you track your progress and compare it to that of other users. Downloading CogniFit is free, but accessing a premium account will cost users $19.99 monthly or $189.99 for a yearly subscription.
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