Saturday, January 27, 2007

Some Experiences with Mindscape's "braintrainer"

Over the past month I've been spending some time on a cognitive exercise CD called "Braintrainer" by Mindscape. The CD is available in Australia and New Zealand and retails for NZ $30, which is pretty inexpensive by the standards of other cognitive enhancement programs like "Brainbuilder".

The program has 15 exercises with up to five levels of difficulty and the higher levels are very mentally demanding so those with high IQs will still find it challanging after repeated use.
There are five categories of exercises: "verbal", "arithmetic", "spatial", "logic" and "memory".

The exercises I have found most helpful have been spelling, number crunch, matching pairs (similar to the card game concentration) colour matching (a pattern matching exercise) and colour tiles (a spatial logic test). However, on some exercises such as "fold the cube" (an object rotation exercise) there is too big a difficulty leap between level one and level two, which I find very difficult.

There seems to be a large number of questions, for example, I've answered a large number of spelling questions and I don't seem to have come across any repeats. The program provides a pretty good mental workout and it keeps a record of how long it take you to answer a given set of questions.

Compared with the "Brainbuilder" CD and the "Mybraintrainer" website though, the exercises don't seem to be as mentally stimulating, perhaps because the exercises aren't time out, but simply finish when you have answered a given set of questions. This reduces the mental presure the answer the questions rapidly and therefore I feel less mentally stimulated at the end of my session.

The program could also benefit from a reverse recall exercise (called reverse digit span on IQ tests) based around numbers or letters. Such exercises are very boring and frustrating, but do seem to be very mentally stimulating, if my experiences with the "Brainbuilder" program are anything to go by.

Overall, a good value, user friendly program, but one that needs to be sumplemented by other programs such as "Mybraintrainer" to provide a good cognitive workout.

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