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Five Websites to Boost Your Brain Power

Updated on July 14, 2014

Insane With the Brain Games

Over the past decade we have seen a surge of new internet brain boosting websites that promise to enhance our mental muscle. Do they really work? How do they work? Which sites are the most engaging? Here we will explore five of the most popular or currently most touted brain building game websites available online. But first a little background on the brain...

Did you know that 10% of the human brain is fat? Don't worry about trying to slim it down though many of your brain's nerve fibers are encased in a fatty sheath similar to Bob Evan's sausage links. This vital fatty sheath called myelin insulates our nerves. The insulation allows electrical impulses to travel quickly around our brain like a wild dancing electrical storm. The outer part of your brain called the cortex is split in two making your left and right hemispheres. The halves are connected by a bundle of 50 million firing neurons or a lot of tiny electrical sparks.

Your brain consumes more energy than you realize. Have you ever noticed most people appear more drained, tired and cranky during mental workouts like college exams than following an intense physical aerobic work out? Is the brain really like a muscle? Scientifically speaking the brain is actually a vital organ that can atrophy in some respects. If you don't "exercise" it by handling mental challenges it will indeed lose some of its abilities. New research shows that, as with muscles, the more you use a part of your brain, the larger it will get. This may explain the rise in popularity of brain boosting websites such as Lumosity and Brainmetrix. As you use a particular part of your brain, more blood is being pumped to that area to provide energy. So according to modern neuroscientists the more you use your brain, the better it works. Brain boosting and mental challenges may stave off the affects of geriatric memory loss and alleviate some symptoms of brain disease. According to studies published in the Neurology Archives, January 23, 2013- higher cognitive activity in young and middle-aged adults is associated with lower levels of Alzheimer’s pathology.

HAPPYneuron.com

The creators of Happy Neuron.com had a vision of creating brain fitness with an emphasis on the pleasure of training the brain, fighting cognitive decline and improving the quality of life. HAPPYneuron was founded and created by three French scientists from a division of Scientific Brain Training (SBT).

HAPPYneruon offers personalized online training sessions with a virtual coach. Online access is scientifically adapted for ages 7 to 77 who can train Memory, Attention, Language, and Strategy with games adapted specifically to sharpen their skills in all of these areas.

Mobile applications are available at the website if you want to train your brain on the go.

LUMOSITY.com

Lumosity is based on the science of neuroplasticity- the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. Lumosity.com exercises are designed by neuroscientists to improve core cognitive functions. Your own personalized regime will cost you based on the plan you choose. A free trial is available. Lumosity will help you create a simple daily workout with exercises that reflect your own needs and choices.

Informed by neuroscience research, Lumosity exercises are engineered to train a variety of core cognitive functions. The website states that researchers have measured working improvements in memory using brain building challenges over time.


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TEST MY BRAIN.org

TestMyBrain.org is a not-for-profit website dedicated to collaborating with citizen scientists throughout the world by providing measurement tools that allow people to engage in science and learn about themselves. Here you will test yourself and build your own brain profile as well as have the opportunity to contribute to actual brain research.

The website is the "brainchild" of director and co-founder Dr. Laura Germine, a Postdoctoral Researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University. Germine and Dr.Ken Nakayama founded TestMyBrain.org in January of 2008. They have collected data from nearly a million volunteers from all over the world. Dr.Germine has a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychopathology from Harvard University.

Dr. Ken Nakayama is Professor and Chair of Psychology at Harvard University. Before starting TestMyBrain.org with Dr Germine, Dr. Nakayama founded the Vision Sciences Lab at Harvard University with Dr. Patrick Cavanagh, the Prosopagnosia Research Center and Faceblind.org with Dr. Brad Duchaine. In addition he also founded the Vision Sciences Society with Dr. Tom Sanocki. Dr. Nakayama has a Ph.D. from UCLA.

Einstein's corpus callosum was totally awesome!

HAPPIFY.com

Positive psychology is the basis for HAPPIFY.com. The site is advised by researchers in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Positive psychology is often referred to as the science of happiness, or the study of what makes humans flourish. Exercising the body as well as the brain increases our health and happiness.

Happify was founded in 2012 by Tomer Ben-Kiki, Ofer Leidner, and Andy Parsons, three serial entrepreneurs based in New York City who were united by a belief that technology should be used to make peoples' lives better. In a short amount of time researchers have learned and expanded the field of positive psychology or the scientific study of what makes people thrive and lead meaningful lives. The research findings had enlightening, life-changing potential. Combing their expertise in gaming and technology, they brought a unique opportunity to combine science and fun in engaging ways that could help people everywhere live more fully.

BRAIN METRIX.com

Brain Metrix.com is an educational website dedicated to challenging your mind with brain building exercises and intelligence tasks. The site provides you free access to online Sudoku puzzles, complicated math problems or engage in their Arrange Game. Beat the clock and arrange numbers in the right order. Choose your own level, test your individual skill. The Arrange Game is a simple classic puzzle and effective brain exercise.

Brain Metrix allows you to take an IQ Test, challenge yourself with a game of chess or try a reflection or memory game.

FITBRAINS.com

Brain games and brain training keep your mind in perfect condition on FitBrains.com. Stay in shape with FitBrains personalized training program. Games were designed by Neuroscientists and award-winning game designers. However, premium games are only accessible to subscribers. Founder and CEO, Michael Cole states " We created Fit Brains to help people of all ages stay sharp and reach their full potential. Our mission is to provide an enjoyable experience that will keep your brain challenged each and every time." .

Fit Brains features a game called UBER BRAIN, a brain cross-trainer that works on all five areas of the brain:

Language

Memory

Concentration

Visual-Spatial

Problem Solving Skills.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

SKEPTICAL? More Research Needed

A young Swedish researcher by the name of Torkel Klingberg discovered over ten years ago that when he provided a group of children with computer games designed to boost their memory after weeks of play, the kids showed significant improvements not only in memory but in overall intellectual ability.

Memorizing strings of digits and patterns of circles on a four-by-four grid had apparently made the children smarter. These findings countered years of psychological research suggesting training in one specific area could not bring benefits to unrelated areas. Did memorization affect reasoning? The Klingberg experiment also hinted that intelligence, which psychologists considered essentially fixed, might well be flexible so that it was less like hair color and more like building muscle.

According to an article posted by Gareth Cook for The New Yorker, in the last year the idea that working-memory training has broad benefits has slightly dissipated. A group of psychologists, lead by a team at Georgia Tech said their subjects showed no evidence of improvement in intelligence with controlled memory or puzzle games over time. Failed replications of Klingberg's experiment were recently published in one of psychology’s top journals and another by a group at Case Western Reserve University. So who do we believe? Research is needed and ongoing and we should decide for ourselves if brain boosting is personally effective for us.

A few final thoughts.

Keep in mind, reading, writing and engaging in brain-stimulating activities helps to preserve memory in old age. Neurologists from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago praised brain boosting in Neurology(July 2013 issue). Senior author, Robert S. Wilson, PhD, explained that people who regularly took part in activities that exercised their brain had better results in tests that measured thinking and memory.

Dr. Wilson explained in the research report "Exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person's lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age."

You decide.

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