10 best apps to train your brain

Story highlights

Brain training apps can improve working memory, processing speed and brain function

Apps can also improve psychological and emotional states, experts say

Most of the apps listed here are based on established treatments

Life By DailyBurn  — 

Whether it’s to focus at work, do better at school, or just stay sharp, there are various reasons for wanting to boost brainpower. But maintaining psychological well-being is equally as important.

Stress and anxiety are among the most pressing and far-reaching public health problems we face,” says Tracy Dennis, professor of psychology at Hunter College. “Mental changes affect every part of our lives: physical health, sense of well-being, work, educational productivity and community involvement.”

Nadine Kaslow, professor and vice chair at Emory University’s Department of Psychiatry and president of the American Psychological Association, says apps can help promote mental health through participation in activities designed to reduce symptoms and improve psychological functioning.

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Then there are apps that don’t directly target mental health, but aim to increase cognitive functioning.

“We know that apps like Lumosity can improve memory, problem solving skills and processing speed, especially in older adults,” says Kaslow. “There are also studies that show that people who engage in these video games are less likely to develop brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping your mind active is as important as physical exercise and these apps can help you stay fit mentally.”

Put your mind to the test

These days, hundreds of brain-training apps claim to put the “smart” in smartphone and guarantee cognitive improvement with minimal daily use. Don’t think your flaky memory or scatterbrain can be restored? Studies are mixed, since this technology is in the early stages of development.

But a 2012 systematic review that analyzed 151 computerized training studies published between 1984 and 2011, found that certain training tasks had a big effect on working memory, processing speed and brain function. In short, playing computer games for a few minutes a day can literally change your mind.

“When you do things in the world, you lay down new neural pathways,