When you need something to distract you in line at the post office, it's tempting to grab your phone and veg out with the latest gaming craze. Instead, try one of these brain-boosting apps to make good use of downtime.
Luminosity helps you improve your recall and learn more efficiently. This app uses clinically proven tools designed by neuroscientists to clarify and speed up your thinking power, improve your problem-solving and better your concentration and memory. (iTunes, free)
If you tend to wake up feeling groggy, you may be waking up during the wrong part of your sleep cycle. Maciek Drejak Labs has created an inexpensive app that monitors your sleep patterns from right underneath your pillow, then wakes you up during the lightest part to ensure you arise well-rested and ready to take on your day. (Sleep Cycle, $1)
We wouldn't play mind games with you, but this app will. It's got almost 20 different puzzles and 200 levels of difficulty to help you flex your brain biceps. (Google Play, free)
How many years has it been since you did cross multiplication? Us, too. That's why we love Math vs. Brain, a free app that keeps you sharp. More than just math problems, this app is a math brainteaser game in which you compete to collect stars. (iTunes, free)
According to research done at Oxford and Cambridge (among others), games like sudoku can keep your brain functioning up to 14 years younger and even help prevent certain types of mental illness and Alzheimers. EA's version has a beautiful interface for both Apple devices and Amazon Kindle to help you improve your mental agility while playing one of the most fun (and at times frustrating) games on the market. (EA, $1)
This targeted training program works your spatial and working memoir, focus and other concentration skills. They've also recently added N-back, a continuous performance task that's proven to increase your fluid intelligence. In fact, it was mentioned in Wired's article on software that makes you smarter. (Google Play, free)
Named one of the 500 best apps in the world by The London Times, this offering from Total Eclipse features a series of mini games guided by Sprocket the Robot and created to test your cognitive abilities in logic, language, math and memory. And just to prove learning games don't have to be boring, all the artwork is hand-painted by artists with influences ranging from Victorian Steampunk to Mayan art. (iTunes, free)
if you've ever gotten hopelessly lost in Wikipedia, this game's for you. Previously compared to the popular fake game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, this app challenges you to learn by reading various Wikipedia articles with the goal of getting to a pre-determined destination in a set number of clicks. Never has a love of random facts been so rewarding! (iTunes, $2)
More than just a brain-trainer, iCue Memory actually teaches you to remember numbers so well that it's endorsed as a training tool by the USA Memory Championship. Better yet, you can also compete with people all over the world for high scores in Global Memory rankings. (iTunes, $3)
With over 40 mini games that train you in visual acuity, memory, logic, math and focus, Brain Challenge is more than a brain-training tool. It also helps prevent stress and anxiety. (iTunes, $5)
Tune your brain to the perfect state of mind through sound, whether you need a little shut-eye or to focus on a challenging project. The easy-to-use interface lets you choose just the right track to lull you to sleep or set a track that increases your focus as you work. (Google Play or iTunes, $1)
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