AARP Eye Center
Brain trainer app can be a smart friend
By Suzie Mitchell, April 26, 2012 01:32 PM
I have a new favorite friend; and if I'm smart I will make this friend my BFF.
My new friend challenges my brain, and sometimes I'm a little embarrassed of the results. But I know I need to keep engaging.
My friend could help me stave off dementia and Alzheimer's.
My new friend is an app called Lumosity. My friend also is a website that syncs with my app.
Lumosity is a series of brain training games that you can play to enhance your brain's speed, memory, attention, problem solving and flexibility.
The games are simple and fun to follow. This morning, I played Lost in Migration, a concentration game. I had to determine which way a flock of birds was flying by identifying the direction of the bird in the middle of the flock. Sounds easy, but it's a bit of hand-eye coordination and concentrating on the middle bird, not the whole flock. I did pretty well - scored 90%.
Then I moved onto Raindrops, a problem solving game where my score dropped to 68%. I knew this was going to be a tough one, once it started. Math problems like 4+12 appeared in rain drops and I had to select the correct answer before the raindrop fell into the water.
Now, math is not an area in which I excel. And as I progressed through the game, the problems became more difficult for me, like 46-18 and my drops were spiking into the water. I noticed I was getting nervous because I couldn't solve a problem, which was causing me to freeze up and miss even more problems. I was heading into a tailspin, and had to regain my composure immediately to progress.
My first inclination was to forget Raindrops in the future, and work on other games, but then I realized I need to play it more often to keep my brain's problem solving area sharp. No pain, no gain.
Also, the higher your score, or the faster you complete the games, the more difficult they become.
You can personalize your brain trainer by specific areas of your brain you want to improve. I picked flexibility, attention and speed, but I think I need to add problem solving to the mix.
The website offers a selection of web-only memory training games that improve face-name recall, working memory recall and spatial recall.
The brain games and training were designed by a group of neuroscientists. Their games are being used in a variety of research and activities. There are free games, starter programs and paid monthly subscriptions. All are explained on the website.
I play the games because I'm scared. At 57, I still am employed full time, and am attempting to master all kinds of new technology. I still occassionally forget names and words.
And the worry of Alzheimers invading my brain is ever present. A 60-year old friend has been struck by early onset dementia and was forced to leave his lucrative law practice, so now it's more real to me.
According to a recent study, Alzheimers could be the defining disease of the boomer generation.
I want to do everything within my power to keep the nasty disease at bay. That's why this app that I can carry in my purse or my pocket is going to be my BFF I talk to daily.
Want more ways to keep your brain sharp? You can find a great collection of brain games at AARP.org. Our favorite, by the way, is "Entangled Figures." Do you have a favorite you found online? Tell us in the comments!