Brain-training research is still young, but studies suggest that some forms of brain training have positive effects on a child’s ability to learn, his behavior, and his emotions. We don’t know exactly how brain-training programs work to deliver their benefits. More research needs to be done. Still, parents may want to check out the following programs to see if they address their child’s needs.
C8 SCIENCES (c8sciences.com) Developed by neuroscientists from Yale University, C8 Sciences’ ACTIVATE program is designed for children with ADHD, autism, executive function disorder, and other cognitive deficits. The company’s program for home use — made for a computer or a mobile device — combines cognitive function games with a 20- to 30-minute exercise program, three to five times a week. ACTIVATE is designed to enhance memory skills, improve the ability to pay attention, and boost other cognitive skills.
PLAY ATTENTION (playattention.com) Play Attention is a learning system that uses a high-tech armband to read brain signals indicative of focus or concentration. When you are engaged or paying attention, the brain emits a signal — an attention signature. The armband monitors this signal through the body and transmits it wirelessly to the computer, so your mind becomes the mouse or joystick as you play the video games and complete the interactive exercises. The games teach you to improve focus, ignore distractions, develop memory skills, and finish tasks.
FIT BRAINS (fitbrains.com) software from Rosetta Stone targets six major brain areas, improving concentration and problem-solving. It is also available as a mobile app for iOS and Android, with 40 brain-training games. The games promote crucial brain skills, such as memory, processing speed, and visual-spatial recognition. The Fit Brains system tailors each exercise to a child’s needs.
MY BRAIN SOLUTIONS (mybrainsolutions.com) uses a suite of 20-plus games and exercises on its website to give individualized assessment and strategies to improve cognitive and emotional skills, including memory, focus, stress reduction, and positivity. The program is designed for children over 13 (and adults) and offers personalized recommendations for improving brain health.
BRAINBEAT (brainbeat.com) is the home version of Interactive Metronome, a neurotherapy program used by more than 20,000 therapists and doctors. It is a computer-based cognitive trainer that uses a metronome-like tool, along with a headset and hand gear. Kids have to clap in rhythm while “conquering different animated worlds.” Kids participate in fourteen 20-minute sessions in which they listen to beats, clap hands, and “receive instant, measurable feedback through scoring, sounds, and light cues.” Research suggests that keeping a precise beat — called neurotiming — may be important for focus, working memory, and language processing skills.
ATENTIV (atentiv.com) uses a child’s “cognitive signature” of EEG brainwave activity to measure attention, second to second. Atentiv has a headband containing an EEG-based brain-to-computer interface that precisely measures attention levels in real time. Children play the specialized video game on a computer or mobile device, using their attention levels to make their moves (no keyboard is used). Playing the game helps a child identify her “attention muscle” and strengthen it. Atentiv reports that “eight hours over an eight-week period improves a child’s academic performance and behavior at home.”
MINDSPARKE (mindsparke.com) has developed a set of video games designed to improve IQ, academic performance, and test-taking. Their product, Brain Fitness Pro, is available in a variety of forms, including “Jr.” (for kids 6-11) and “IC” to help with impulse control. MindSparke can also be used to improve academic performance and enhance studying for high-stakes tests. According to MindSparke research, doing meditation, in addition to playing the games, can increase mental gains.
MYNDLIFT (myndlift.com) is a mobile neurofeedback app aimed at improving focus and attention. It uses real-time brainwave measurements and visual/auditory feedback. This type of brain training has been available only in clinics and professional settings until now, so making it available and affordable to more people is a breakthrough. Myndlift is currently in the beta phase of development. It may be available later this year.
BRAINTRAIN (braintrain.com) is a set of computerized cognitive-training systems focused on brain training and cognitive rehabilitation. BrainTrain offers tools to assess ADHD, improve reading, and exercise the brain. It can be used at home or provided through medical and psychological professionals. BrainTrain’s Captain’s Log Personal Trainer offers 50 programs, with more than 2,000 games, that train 20 different cognitive skills. Research suggests that these products can improve memory and attention.