Saturday, September 27, 2014

Brain-Training Games & Apps to Improve Executive Functions

The 21st century is nearly 15 years old, and it has become increasingly apparent that the student skill sets needed both now and in the future are and will be vastly different from those skill sets of the last century.

Success both in and outside the classroom now and in the years to come will depend on the ability of students to acquire information at increasingly accelerated rates. As teachers and parents, we now and will need to help students develop the skill sets required to analyze new information as it becomes available, to flexibly adapt when facts are revised and to be technologically fluent (as new technology becomes available). Success will also depend upon one's ability to collaborate and communicate with others on a global playing field -- with a balance of open-mindedness, foundational knowledge and critical thinking skills in order to make complex decisions using new and changing information.

There is a buzz word frequently heard these days in educational circles (and among some parents) that relates to all of this. The term is executive functions. The executive functions are those skills that would enable a corporate executive to be successful -- the ability to be flexible, interpretive, creative and have multidimensional thinking. Examples of this would include planning, risk assessment, informed decision-making, deductive and inductive reasoning, critical analysis and delay of immediate gratification to achieve long-term goals. These executive functions provide the tools the brain then uses for organizing, connecting, and prioritizing of information and tasks, attention and focusing, self-monitoring, self-correcting, accurate prediction, abstraction, and creative problem-solving.

This week's article will provide you with a list of websites AND apps with brain-training games. By accessing and interacting with these games, it is possible to significantly improve one's executive functions. The resources listed here with their direct links will address memory, focus and attention, language, reasoning, visual-spatial and other critical-thinking skills. If you or a child you know is struggling with any of these executive functions, these games could help make a positive difference. We hope you will try at least one of the resources here. Please let us know if you have discovered and utilized other good brain-training resources that might be beneficial to children or adults with executive function challenges, and we will add them to the list.

Websites for Brain-Training Games

HAPPYneuron (FREE 7-day trial with the opportunity to subscribe)
There are several different types of memory: "Working memory" processes information over a span of about 15 seconds; "short-term memory" retains information for up to about 60 seconds; and "long-term memory" stores information indefinitely. Sustained practice with memory games helps to strengthen your memory functions. In addition to memory games, this website also provides FREE brain games to help improve focus/attention, language, reasoning and visual-spatial skills.

MyBrainTrainer Exercises (Subscriptions available at $9.95 and up)
This site provides a collection of brain-training exercises to help improve executive functions. It also includes other features to help log progress with such skills.

Brain-Training Game Apps

10 iPhone Apps that Boost Brain Function
by Martina Keyhell (for Smartphones/Mobile Applications)
Your iPhone may be able to actually boost your brainpower! These 10 apps are great brain-training apps that can increase brain function, actually making you smarter!

5 Must-Have Apps for Improving Executive Functioning in Children (May 2014)
from the Beyond BookSmart Blog: Executive Functioning Strategies
There are a variety of powerful apps and technologies for improving executive functioning in children who may have weak executive functioning skills. They provide some support and scaffolding that can enhance children's overall executive functioning. The key is for parents and educators to identify areas of executive weakness and then to find apps that practice and support those skills. The following are five favorites for supporting planning, working memory, organization and time management.

Five apps that could help sharpen the brain
by Jessica Naziri, Los Angeles Times
This article provides titles and direct links to 5 brain-training apps (Lumosity, Mind Games, Critical Thinking University Think-O-Meter, Brain Trainer Special & Fit Brains Trainer).

More Brain-Training Sources & Resources

Tips and Strategies to Improve Executive Function Skills and Working Memory
from Brain Balance Achievement Centers
This article provides excellent ideas to promote and improve executive functioning skills.

Improving Executive Function: Teaching Challenges and Opportunities
by Judy Willis, M.D. (via
In this article, Dr. Judy Willis, a neurologist, explains executive functions, the tools the brain needs and uses to organize, connect, and prioritize information and tasks, solve problems and much more.

Games & Strategies to Improve Executive Functions
from Help for Struggling Readers blog
This is an earlier article from our blog (July 2013) with additional brain-training resources.

Games and Apps for Improving Executive Functions in Children with ADHD
by Randy Kuhlman, PhD
This SlideShare presentation from the CHADD 2013 Annual International Conference on ADHD provides good information on how games and apps can support, practice and help acquire executive functions.

For more information on customizable reading tools to improve focus and attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at


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  2. Dear products13,

    We appreciate your good comment and feedback here! Thank you for taking the time to provide your valuable input. Pleased to see that you have a personal interest in brain training and related resources. Hope you will re-visit our blog often!

    Happy Reading!

    Joan M. Brennan
    Brennan Innovators, LLC
    Low-tech & Digital Tools for Challenged Readers