Opinion

My guide to brain-training phone applications

By Ed McLeish

If you’re not going to school or are home from work due to coronavirus precautions — and have a smartphone or tablet — there’s no reason you can’t still train your brain with a few apps I like to use.

It’s important to keep your brain stimulated, and take isolation periods as an opportunity to get smarter. The list isn’t in any particular order, but try these out:

1. Blinkist. This is a book-summarising subscription service. If you’re one of those people who can’t sit down and commit to a thick novel, but still like to absorb new concepts every day, then download Blinkist. The app is free to download and gives you concepts from 3000+ nonfiction novels (you get a free daily pick, but you must pay to upgrade to unlimited access). But unlike a book, Blinkist lets you digest the main concepts from the book in around 15 minutes’ reading time. From self-help novels, to leadership and motivation, to history, to parenting, to nonfiction, Blinkist has some of the most highly regarded books out there to keep your brain trained.

2. Duolingo. This is an amazing time to learn a new language in the comfort of your home. Another free app, Duolingo allows you to learn most languages around the globe. The app gives lessons and asks for daily learning targets, so your motivation and commitment doesn’t fade away. You build on what you have learned previously, so who knows – maybe after two weeks or two months, you’ll be speaking in full sentences with your pals.

3. Audible. Listen to novels of all varieties. If you like to hear beautiful storytelling instead of seeing it, then download Audible. Although it's not free to listen to books, you can always be kept in suspense, or put at ease, while listening to a book from Audible.

4. Waking Up/Headspace. Meditation apps. There’s nothing like being ready to approach everything with a clear mind and a positive attitude — no matter what’s on your plate. Meditation also helps sleep, so these apps could be good before bedtime.

5. Dictionary app — if you subscribe to notifications, you'll get a ‘word of the day’ sent to you. What a nice way to add to your vocabulary set.

6. Wordscapes. This is a free find-a-word app with daily challenges and a leader-board for competitive and quick-thinking word lovers to aspire to be on.

7. Lumosity. This is a paid app, but improves memory, attention, speed of processing and problem solving with each of its brain-training games.

8. Shepparton News. At a time when updates to your local community are paramount, download and subscribe to us. It costs a cup of coffee ($4) to subscribe each week, and it’s important to see what’s happening in your local community.

9. Podcasts. If you’ve been sitting on the fence regarding podcasts, now is the perfect time to check them out. Many are educational or downright entertaining.

Stay tuned for my next stay-at-home-activities column, which will focus solely on podcasts.

edward.mcleish@mmg.com.au