what is brain training

Enhancing Your Cognitive Abilities: An Introduction to Brain Training

Sep 16, 2023
  •  BY 

Chances are, you've heard of a personal trainer—an expert in physical fitness who can create an effective exercise program for individuals or groups.

But have you ever heard of a brain trainer or brain training program?

Training your brain is equally as important for overall health as training your body. So keep reading to learn more.

What is Brain Training?

Brain training is a type of cognitive enhancement that aims to improve various mental abilities, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. It involves a series of exercises and activities designed to challenge the brain and improve its performance.

How does Brain Training work? The 4 Core Principles

When it comes to understanding brain training, a good place to start is to review some key neuroscientific principles that it's built on:


Neuroplasticity is your brain's ability to change, adapt, and reorganize itself by forming new neural connections in response to new experiences. It is the mechanism by which all learning and memory occurs, and it happens throughout your entire life. The principle of neuroplasticity is often targeted in brain training exercises, with the aim of enhancing cognitive function or mitigating cognitive decline.

The Use-It-or-Lose-It Principle

The use-it-or-lose-it principle, as it relates to your brain, states that regular mental stimulation (use it) helps keep neural networks active and dynamic, while a lack of stimulation (lose it) can lead to the decay of neural networks. In other words, synapses that are more active are strengthened while synapses that are less active are weakened. Brain training activities often focus on providing frequent and varied mental stimulation to help you use important neural networks rather than lose them.

Selective Improvement

The selective improvement principle is based on the understanding that different regions of your brain are responsible for different cognitive functions, and that repeated practice of tasks requiring a certain cognitive function will improve that function. Therefore, brain training activities are used to activate and target specific cognitive functions in order to strengthen them.

Transfer Effects

The transfer effects principle states that training in one area can also improve performance in another area. This concept is still a matter of ongoing debate in the field of cognitive training. Some research suggests that such transfer effects may be limited, while others argue that certain types of training can indeed lead to broad improvements in cognitive function.

There are many different types of brain training exercises, including puzzles, memory games, and attention exercises. These exercises are built, to varying degrees, on these neuroscientific principles. And they can be done with physical materials, online, or through mobile apps, making brain training accessible to virtually everyone.

Brain Training Benefits

The benefits of brain training are numerous and include improvements in the following areas:

Improved Cognitive Functions

Brain training exercises have been shown to improve specific cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, and processing speed. 

Enhanced Memory Skills and Processing Speed

Studies have shown that brain training exercises can produce significant improvements in working memory and processing speed

Improved Mood and Emotional Regulation

Brain training has also been shown to have positive effects on mood and emotional regulation, including a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms. Brain training exercises can also translate into better quality of life, particularly in older adults. This can include better performance in activities of daily living, improved mood, and increased social engagement.

10 Types of Brain Training Exercises 

There are many different types of brain training exercises that can help to improve cognitive function and enhance overall brain health. Here are some examples:

1. Memory Exercises

Memory exercises involve activities like memorizing a list of words or a set of images, and then trying to recall them after some time has passed. These exercises can help improve short-term and working memory skills, as well as recall ability.

2. Mental Math Exercises

Solving arithmetic problems in your head is a good way to enhance cognitive skills and improve working memory. Mental math exercises can also help improve analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

3. Word Games

Crossword puzzles, Scrabble, and other word games can help improve vocabulary and language skills. These exercises can also help enhance cognitive flexibility and creativity.

4. Puzzles

Solving puzzles like Sudoku or Rubik's cube can help enhance problem-solving skills and improve spatial reasoning and processing abilities.

5. Attention Exercises

Attention exercises can include tasks like reading a page of text and then answering questions about it, which can help improve focus and comprehension skills. These exercises can also help enhance sustained attention and reduce distractibility.

6. Card Games

Games like Poker and Bridge require strategic thinking and can help improve critical thinking skills. These exercises can also help enhance decision-making abilities and cognitive flexibility.

7. Physical Exercise

Regular physical exercise has been shown to have positive effects on brain health and cognition, particularly aerobic exercises. Exercise can help improve blood flow to the brain, promote neuroplasticity, and enhance overall brain function.

8. Meditation Practice

Regular mindfulness meditation practice can improve attention span, reduce stress, and enhance mental clarity. Meditation exercises can also help improve emotional regulation and promote a sense of calm and well-being. (If you're interested, you can try meditation free for one year on the Balance app.)

9. New Skill Acquisition

Learning a new skill, whether it's a language, a musical instrument, or something else, has been shown to enhance cognitive abilities and contribute to brain plasticity. Learning a new skill can also help improve memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.

10. Visual and Auditory Exercises

Visual and auditory exercises can include tasks like associating a sound or image with a word or concept, which can help improve sensory processing and associative thinking. These exercises can also help improve overall cognitive function and enhance creativity.

Overall, engaging in a variety of brain training exercises can help improve your cognitive function, enhance your overall brain health, and reduce your risk of cognitive decline over time.

The Elevate App and Brain Training

One popular brain training app that incorporates a wide variety of brain training exercises is Elevate. The Elevate app offers personalized training programs based on your goals, and it adapts to your skill level and performance over time.

With more than 40 games spread across reading, writing, speaking, memory, and math skill groups, the Elevate app provides a fun, effective, and easy way to make brain training a part of your everyday routine.

Unleash Your Brain’s Potential

Brain training is a valuable cognitive enhancement tool that can improve your cognitive function and overall mental performance. So why not give it a try? With the Elevate app, which is available on iOS and Android, you can engage in fun and effective brain training exercises tailored to your needs. Download it today, and start your journey towards enhanced cognitive abilities!

Related Articles

The Importance of Mental Fitness: Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Well-Being 

  • Mental fitness refers to your ability to sustain your overall well-being. Learn tips to improve yours. 

The Science of Cognitive Training: Improving Brain Function with Brain Games

  • Training cognitive skills can improve brain function. Think of it like a workout for your mind. Read on to learn how brain games can help. 

The Best Brain Games for Seniors: Keeping Your Mind Sharp and Active

  • Discover the benefits of brain games, which are an effective way to keep your mind sharp and active.
To download, scan the QR code with your phone camera