The road towards mental agility and intellectual prowess is a long hard slog, and for some of us the journey is dotted with detours and the occasional flat tire. It’s not that we all don’t want to be mentally at our peak, it’s just that all this thinking stuff can be really hard work. Know what we mean? But now there’s a new option for those of us that want to develop our cognitive skills and prove that we’re more than just a dump truck for some grey mush.
CogniFit is a new online service which aims to help anyone spruce up their mental skills without having to plow through a bunch of dry, dusty textbooks. The whole service in fact is based around playing various games, which has got to be good news.
Once you’ve signed up and logged in, you’re given a choice of activities you can do, ranging from perception and concentration to coordination and memory. The game playing starts almost immediately as you’re given a prompt showing what the world ‘score’ is for your choice. Game on!
We decided to do a bit of general concentration testing to see if we could focus on stuff properly, and after selecting the option we were taken through a wizard process offering up various games of different types.
Each game comes in a nicely packaged graphical format, with different tasks that need to be completed in order to grab a score. At each stage you’re given a summary of your performance and a score, and at the end of the final test…sorry game…of each section you get an overall response.
Turns out I’m strong on Divided Attention but pretty pants at shifting. Rusty fingers I call it. And that’s the basic formula all the way through. The site features a bunch of different game-tasks covering all sorts of cognitive skills, and apparently all backed up by science. We found some of the early tests we did to be little more than gauges of our manual dexterity with a mouse, so if you’re a technophobe you’d better give the whole thing a miss unless you want to revel in lousy scores.
The interesting thing is the fact that you can choose to test specific aspects of your mind, including mental planning, driving focus and sports co-ordination, although each of these only offer up a small number of games on the free version, after which you have to sign up for a monthly subscription starting at $7.49 a month. Whether you think this is a worthwhile expense depends on what you’re after we guess, and if you look at it like a gym membership but for your brain, then it probably makes a bit more sense.
We found the whole thing to be quite interesting and surprisingly, more fun than we thought it would be. The games include standard variations on things like Whack-A-Mole and Mahjong, and it’s interesting to see how you stack up against the general population in terms of your abilities. The community stuff is a bit too cutesy for our tastes (please can someone kill hashtags now?), but hey, a tiny bit of competition never hurt when it comes to working out.
Overall we found the CogniFit system to be an interesting and innovative approach to mental and cognitive training. It is sufficiently engrossing to make you return to try again, and the results and advice should help you improve your mental skills over time if you keep up with the exercises.
The two caveats we can see are a) some of the tasks could get repetitively boring very fast and b) the cost of the system is possibly a little too high to encourage those who are mildly interested. In other words, we can’t see it as compelling enough to warrant the current level of monthly subscription fees. But that’s probably just us.
Definitely worth taking a look. Have a go on the free plan and see what you think, and there’s also an iPhone app (no Android) available too.