Exercise for your brain: 6 apps to keep you mentally fit



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Dozens of studies show a direct connection between daily mental exercises and reduced rates of dementia, depression and Alzheimer's disease. Give your brain its best chance by giving it a good workout — just as you would your body.

We've rounded up six apps that will do the trick.


1. Happify

Staying in top mental shape isn't about memory alone; your mood is just as important. Happify leverages principles of positive psychology to help you change your habits slowly over time. You'll use in-app quizzes; a special gratitude journal; and opinion polls to help build empathy and cope with daily life stresses, including work, family obligations and finances. Support through the app's community of users helps stop the isolation behaviors that can lead to poor quality of life.

  • Devices: iOS devices only

  • Price: Free


2. Fit Brains Trainer

With access to more than 360 games on the Fit Brains Network, Fit Brains Trainer gives you private training sessions designed to increase memory, focus and problem-solving skills. Use the app's daily regimen of exercises, designed by neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Nussbaum, to improve cognitive function in all areas. Don't worry about getting bored. The app scales with your performance level, so you're always getting new challenges to stay sharp. Track performance across five distinct areas of your brain to see how you improve.

  • Devices: iOS devices and Android smartphones

  • Cost: Free (has in-app purchases)


3. Eidetic

Having trouble remembering phone numbers or the names of people you meet at networking events? Eidetic helps improve your memorization skills by using spaced repetition to enhance brain function. You'll learn by practicing with numbers, dates and names already important in your life, like your significant other's birthday or your bank account number. Push notifications to your smartphone offers reminders for when it's time to test your memory. Regular testing — controlled by the app — helps make sure the items that you memorize can transition from short-term to long-term memory.

  • Devices: iOS devices only

  • Price: Free (in-app upgrade to Pro for $1.99)


4. Lumosity

Unless you avoid the Internet, you've probably seen commercials for this popular brain game app. Lumosity uses timed challenges that change every time you play them to increase your mental speed, problem-solving ability and memory. Tracking your performance against other users creates a competitive atmosphere for extra motivation. Like other apps with games based on neuroscience, Lumosity focuses on fluid intelligence, where all parts of the brain work together to do tasks. With the constant changes in games, you won't dread doing your mental exercises.

  • Devices: Android smartphones and iOS devices

  • Cost: Free with limited access ($15 per month or $80 per year for full access)


5. Memory Trainer

Adults and kids can use the in-app games from Memory Trainer, created by Urbian, to improve their spatial skills and working memory. This app can actually help you remember the layout of your favorite city, including driving directions. Track your performance, pause sessions and continue them when you have time, and choose which mental workout sessions help you the most. Select from three difficulty levels to increase the challenge as you progress through the app's continuous performance tasks. 

  • Devices: Android smartphones only

  • Cost: Free (upgrade to Ad-Free Pro for $1.99)


6. Mensa Brain Test

Ready to put your brain skills to the greatest test? The American Mensa Brain Test gives questions and challenges used to find the world's highest IQs. Train your brain using the app's pre-test questions before you delve into the categories: mathematics, logic, visual and language. No two sessions are alike thanks to the number of questions stored in the app's database. You can even take the official test proctored by a Mensa official to see if you qualify for membership as having an IQ in the world's top 2%.

  • Devices: iOS devices and Android smartphones

  • Cost: $1.99