Sharpen the mind with brain-enhancing iPhone apps

Sep 28, 2010
Shine

We know we are perfectly capable of whiling away hours and hours of time on our iPhones playing Angry Birds or Froggy Jump, but what if we could actually use that time constructively? Perhaps we coul even to build up our knowledge rather than calluses on our fingers? Next time you have an hour to […]

We know we are perfectly capable of whiling away hours and hours of time on our iPhones playing Angry Birds or Froggy Jump, but what if we could actually use that time constructively? Perhaps we coul even to build up our knowledge rather than calluses on our fingers?

Next time you have an hour to kill, pop open a couple of these mind-sharpening iPhone apps. Whether you are preparing for an appearance on “Jeopardy,” or trying to complete the New York Times crossword puzzle, you will be all the smarter for it.

You can start by doing a quick assessment of your basic knowledge and mathematical skills with the How Smart are You? or the IQ: How Smart am I? free iPhone apps. Both take you through a series of questions, and then provide you with an IQ score.

Once you know where you are starting from, it’s time to enhance the brain. If you need a refresher course in your 3rd grade multiplication tables, try the Brain Blaze Multiply app ($1.99). The app includes straight mathematical drills.

Or, if you want something a little less dry, the 99-cent Brain Thaw app includes a series of fun games meant to get you thinking. The user is presented with a square graph of numbers, and a rule, such as multiples of four. Tap on the numbers that are multiples of four, and your penguin icon moves around the screen earning points.

Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima ($4.99) is another app that will help warm up the brain cells. There are lots of quick games that force you to exercise the different parts of the brain, such as the frontal lobe. You have to be quick, as the games require multiple mental calculations while timer is ticking.

Brain power isn’t all about being quick with numbers, however. Exams such as the GRE (the admissions test for many graduate schools) and the LSAT (the test for law school admissions) include heavy reading comprehension sections. That is why we are including on the Wikiquiz app (99 cents) as part of this list. It requires you to read through descriptions of narrations on various cultural topics (art, literature, etc.) and then fill in the missing words. There are easy and hard levels, but even the easy level is tough.

Historical facts can be hard to keep straight. But luckily, there are sever great historical resource apps to help remember your places, dates and people. The World Fact Book (99 cents) is an amazing database organized country by country. So if you need to remember where Manual Noriega was from (Panama), this is a good source. For the foundation of American democracy, check out the 99-cent Constitution app. And if you are trying to remember some good quotables, we recommend the Famous Speeches app (also 99 cents).

Once you mind is teeming with new information, it’s time to put it to good use. Test and entertain yourself with the Trivial Pursuit app ($2.99). If you find yourself stumped by a question, you will know exactly where to go to find the answer.

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Megan O'Neil

Megan O'Neil is a journalist and freelance writer in Los Angeles. When she isn't lounging at the beach or socializing in the Hollywood Hills, she writes for the Park Labrea New/Beverly Press newspaper and the Los Angeles Times Community News Group.

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