Being obsessed with learning about the brain and how it functions, I probably should have gone to school for neurology, thing is I like to read about the brain but I really don’t want to physically touch a brain. I’m a little squeamish.
Recently I came across a few articles discussing how neurologists are studying video games and using video game technology to improve the cognitive functionality of the brain.
Studies have shown that intelligence and cognitive functionality is not something that is set and unchanging from birth, which conventional science has believed for a long time. As a result of discovering that cognitive function can in fact be improved upon scientist are using video games to help people with issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, recovery from stroke and even as a possible preventative measure for Alzheimer’s. I was so curious about the research I had to try out some of these online training tools.
The following are two sites I tried out for couple of weeks. I have noticed some improvement not only in my test scores but also in my everyday memory, ability to recall information quickly and problem solving skills.
Luminosity.com is a great site for games which improve the cognitive functionality of the brain. Luminosities Core Basic Training is a series of games created to improve memory, attention, processing speed and cognitive flexibility. Before you can begin playing you must first answer some questions about what you want to achieve with the training. They then choose a series of tailored games which designed to help you reach your goal. For instance there is a bird watching game which is almost like hang man or wheel of fortune.
You watch the white box in the middle of the image on the screen; a bird will appear somewhere on the image and a letter will pop up in the box. You than click on the screen where you think you saw the bird. If you get it right you get to choose a letter. You have to remember which letter you were shown when it briefly popped up in the box when the bird flashed on the screen. You’re spelling out bird names, you can guess if you think you know what it is or you can play it out. This game helps to improve your peripheral vision, processing speed and memory. You’re expected to practice each day. You can compare your performance results from the day before and read tips that are provided by different users. Luminosity only provides the first 3 sessions free of charge. If you want to keep training you have to purchase a subscription, there are a number of different subscription offers to choose from.
Fitbrains is another brain training website similar to Luminosity. Like Luminosity, Fitbrains games focus on: memory, concentration and attention, language skills, visual and executive function.
Unlike Luminosity which asks you a series of questions to develop a workout plan tailored to what your goals are, Fitbrains has you start by playing a game which tests and assesses your current strength and weaknesses. You can than pick and choose what games you’d like to play and in what order.
There is no set training plan. You can track your performance from day to day, win awards for outstanding performance in each of the five categories and you can even add friends and challenge them to beat your score. To play you have to sign up for a free membership. The first 5 days you are allowed Club access and can play all the games they have to offer. If you want to keep access to all the games you have to purchase a subscription. If you don’t mind having limited access you can continue to play without a subscription, although the best games require a subscription to play.
- Rejects: The Angry Video Game “Expert” (thebusystreet.com)
- Video Memory Game Shown to Boost Kids’ Brain Power (news.yahoo.com)
- Training Via Video Game Shown to Boost Kids’ Brain Power (nlm.nih.gov)