The Superhuman Apps Are Here! by Alejandra Mendoza

Taken by Alejandra Mendoza

Taken by Alejandra Mendoza

Simply Google searching, “Brain Power” yields over one hundred million results—most of which will be headlined with ways to improve or boost your brainpower. And it’s not just Google, the App store and Google Play will yield similar results as well.

Before smartphones and applications, we used to read books, take naps and follow magazine tips on brain foods that would promise to make us smarter.

In one of the most competitive and rigorous job and education markets, the appeal of becoming smarter or faster or better is high.

But it’s not just our brains that we want to strengthen. There are also apps to improve vision and physique.

“We set out to work on those parts of our bodies that are visible to other people. But every now and then we feel a sense of guilt over that one muscle we barely exercise, the brain (especially for adults), and try to boost our self-esteem by playing games that award us points or show us flashy stars to represent the assumption that we are becoming smarter,” said David Pacheco, a junior in information Technology.

Ultimeyes is a new app that has the ability to increase visions levels to 20/7.5, which means that people can see clearly at 20 feet away what others see clearly only at 7.5 feet away. Designed by neuroscientists at the University of California Riverside, the app targets the part of the brain that processes visual information, increasing the distance at which people can see by reducing blurriness, which is exactly what users are asked to target when they play the game.

Not only did its test subjects—a baseball team—win its next few games, 31% of its team members could see better after playing for half hour intervals. Yet Ultimeyes did not focus on the eyes, rather, its attention was fixated on humans’ neuroplasticity, or the ability to rewire the brain by training the brain to process the patterns we see.

Although common games like “Are You Smarter than 5th Grader,” “Family Feud” and “Jeopardy” test our trivial skills, the new wave of games are more directly target the brain—increasing not only it’s memory but its flexibility as well.

A muscle just like any other, the brain requires exercise and the following list of applications are aimed at not only challenging the user but also preventing cognitive—or reasoning—decline.

Despite their popularity, brain training isn’t one hundred percent successful. According to the study, “Putting brain training to the test,” published on the US National Library of Medicine, “Although improvements were observed in every one of the cognitive tasks that were trained, no evidence was found for transfer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cognitively closely related.”

Lumosity, a web-based application that includes a cognitive training program, strives to increase memory, attention, and flexibility. According to a study published in the Mensa Research Journal, “Results indicate that improving cognitive abilities such as working memory and visual attention is possible via the use of web-based applications outside of a clinical setting.”

The Human Cognition Project, through Lumosity, has ten brain games that are designed around a personalized training program and has around fourteen million users.

In Clockwork Brain, players not only test memory, they increase analytical, logical and recognition skills through random mini games that get harder with every game played. The free mini games are designed to train language processing, arithmetic, memory, and spatial abilities.

Whether it’s through Math vs. Brains, Lumosity or Clockwork Brain, the appeal of increasing brain power will never go away; even if it doesn’t work, the games are still entertaining.

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