If your memory isn’t what it used to be, you may be in search of a good brain trainer app to get your rusty cognitive wheels running at optimal speed again. Well, there’s a free iPhone brain trainer app called Lumosity Brain Trainer (by Lumos Labs) that offers a variety of scientifically proven cognitive training games to help improve key brain functions for memory, processing speed, attention, flexibility, and problem solving. This brain trainer app was created by the same people connected with the popular online brain-training program on Lumosity.com, with input from top university neuroscientists from places like Stanford, Berkley, Harvard, and University of Michigan. Lumosity claims it “can improve a wide variety of core cognitive skills – from attention and memory to intelligence and math skills.” And playing just a few minutes a day will make an improvement.
There are 35 total training sessions, but this free brain trainer app version only comes with 5 sessions (the iPhone brain trainer app originally released in January 2010 with several updates, and the latest on in August 2012). In each of those 5 sessions are 3 games to tackle. The variety of iPhone games focus on a different primary brain functions. And the available games fall under: Shapes, Spatial, Memory Matrix, Chalkboard Challenge, Lost in Migration.
Each of these focuses on a different mental capacity. Shapes challenges your processing speed and reaction time. Spatial challenges you to think faster, with faster reaction time to speed up cognitive processes. Memory Matrix challenges your sense of 3-D environment, helping you to remember location of objects, and recalling visual patterns. Chalkboard Challenge challenges your problem solving and is used for comparing values, accurate estimations and mental math.
Lost in Migration tests your attention and focuses on avoiding distraction, increasing work productivity and concentration. The games all come with good instructions before playing the game to help you understand what is to be expected.
But before you can play any games, you’ll have to create a Lumosity.com account, enter some personal info (birthday, education level, and gender — and optional info — hours of sleep for previous night, and current mood). My first session in this brain trainer app started off with Shapes. In this particular game you’ll be shown a colored shape, and you must remember that first shape as you are shown additional cards with a shape on it. It could be the same or not. Your goal is to determine if the next shape shown is the same as the one directly before it and choose between 2 buttons that say it either matched or didn’t. Cards keep quickly moving down the line.
After completing the games in this brain trainer app, you’ll get an overall BPI (Brain Performance Index) for Speed, Memory, Attention, Flexibility, and Problem Solving. This BPI is the measurement of your performance in the different cognitive areas and can be used to compare your own personal progress in the different mental capacities. According the the developers, “BPI scales are based on an analysis and ranking of over 7,200,000 real game results.” Unfortunately, in the free brain trainer app version you are not able to compare your BPI profile with others unless you upgrade to the PRO version (which is an in app purchase). The in app purchases are for a 3 month access to content ($4.99), 6 month ($6.99), and a yearly ($9.99).
If you want more free content after completing your 5 free sessions in this brain trainer app, you can sign in to play 3 free days (?) of online games if you visit Lumosity.com website. When I went to the website and logged in, I saw my scores from the games I played in the iPhone app. I Played a few of the same games as in the app, but was introduced to an interesting outdoor simulation game called Eagle Eye, which works on your peripheral and helps you perceive elements in your environment. This was the only game that didn’t feel clinical to me; I really enjoyed that training test. What I discovered while on the Lumosity website is that there are 4 different subscription options for the web version: Monthly ($14.95), Yearly ($72), 2-Year ($108), and a Lifetime ($296.96). It does get a little pricey. You’ll have to determine if it’s worth it to you. However there is a 30-day money back guarantee for any of these “personalized training, 35+ games, and performance tracking” subscriptions.
Overall, I love the concept, and the fact that the games are based on scientifically proven brain training tests. I found the games to be enjoyable and definitely challenging to my inner competitive side. However, there are things that aren’t totally clear to me, like do I have the option to replay the sessions I just finished within this brain trainer app — within the Free iPhone app? It doesn’t appear so, which I don’t like. And exactly how many games do you get in those subscriptions — what exactly am I paying for. I can’t find anything that mentions anything other than 5 free sessions for the Free iPhone brain trainer app version, and that other “35+” number floating around in the app description and the website. I did see a place in the app for new games coming so we’ll have to wait and see.
I also didn’t like that I couldn’t compare BPI stats unless I upgraded to the Pro version. That seems a little cheesy. Honestly, I’d rather pay $0.99 and have full access to a fair amount of content, with continual learning content as $0.99 in app purchase game packs — not a subscription time-based learning. The thought of that screams “Warning!” to me. I think this could put people off. The biggest problem I have with the subscription/in app access is that I don’t know how much of a difference there is between 3, 6, 12 months because it’s not really clear — other than length of time to access. There’s another Lumos Labs app called Brain Trainer Unlimited, which sells for $49.99. This gives you “unlimited access to Brain Trainer’s entire suite of scientifically designed exercises — and for the rest of your life!” So, I guess it boils down to how much are you willing to pay for a sharp mind? For a free Education app, I enjoyed my 5 free sessions of brain training gameplay. How about you?