There are several websites offering computer games that claim to improve memory. Whilst one should be skeptical about some of their more outlandish claims, such as the claim that using their games regularly can help to prevent Alzheimer's disease (a claim regularly debunked on medical blogs), it is true that the use of brain games to improve working memory is a well documented phenomenon. In this article, we will look at three websites that provide computer games to improve memory.
Lumosity.com is an online "brain exercise and fitness program" designed by neuroscientists and psychologists that uses online brain games and mental exercises to help improve memory, concentration and cognition. It is a pay site, and membership is available in three month, six month and one year options.
The games focus on training the mind in an interactive environment, and the program's intelligent algorithm tailors itself to the skill level of the user. Computer games designed to improve memory include: Monster Garden, where monsters are shown in an onscreen grid and the user is asked to remember which squares contain monsters; Birdwatching, a simulation of the popular pastime where the user is required to memorize different species of bird; and Word Bubbles, which helps to improve linguistic skills and memory.
Each session requires only 10 to 15 minutes per day, and the program is conducted entirely online, so you do not have to download any software. The website has an attractive, easy to use interface with simple instructions for the user.
HAPPY Neuron (capitalization theirs) is another site offering online computer games to improve memory, attention, language, visual and spatial skills. The site costs $9.95 per month to join, or $99.95 for a year's membership, and requires the Adobe Flash player (available to download free of charge from www.adobe.com) in order to work.
Memory games include Around the World in 80 Trips, revolving around memorizing travel itineraries, Elephant Memory, where you are asked to memorize a long list of words, and The Squeaking Mouse, involving animal calls. To get you started, the site offers a free game, An American in Paris, where you act as a tour guide in a major city, remembering the order of landmarks visited.
Last, but by no means least, we come to the granddaddy of all computer games to improve memory, Nintendo's Brain Age. Brain Age, developed in 2005 and known in some markets as Brain Training, has been a consistent best seller for the Nintendo DS handheld game system, and has spawned two sequels, Brain Age 2 and Brain Age Express. The game features a variety of memory training and other brain games, including Sudoku puzzles.