Fit Brains Trainer: Keeping your grey matter in shape

Fit Brains Trainer app icon

While a lot of us are at least making the attempt to keep our bodies in shape, not so many people think about keeping their brains fit. That's the idea behind a recent app from Rosetta Stone Canada called Fit Brains Trainer (free with in-app purchases).

Like some of the other brain health apps on the market (Lumosity Mobile, as the most obvious competitor), Fit Brains Trainer seeks to boost your health by improving memory and recognition, increasing your attention span, giving you a faster reaction speed, assist you with problem solving, and more. It's done by providing you with a number of learning exercises disguised as games.

According to the folks at Fit Brains, the games are actually an adaptive learning system that scales and measures your cognitive performance across five major brain areas. Tools in the app track your performance over time, so you can see if there's an improvement and also compare yourself to others of your age and gender.

A recent update added daily brain training sessions that are just plain fun. Like many other users of the app, I downloaded Fit Brains Trainer for free. After a certain time period, you can either spend some money to unlock additional games and levels, or you're stuck playing the same games forever. Fit Brains usually provides deals, so be sure to get an account (which also saves your progress) and wait for the deal email to arrive before you spend your money.

So, how are the games? Some seem simple to me, while others are just plain mind-boggling. I try to do a training session every day, as that is recommended for the best results. In each session, you'll be given games to play that work a specific brain area. Today, for example, an early session chose "Focus" as the work area, while this afternoon I was given "Memory" games to play with.

Each one of the games is timed, and you're asked to perform a specific task. For example, one memory game provides a board with a number of dissimilar objects on it. It changes, and you're tasked with tapping on the objects that have changed. At the end of the pre-set time (60 seconds per game), you're given a score for the game that includes points (and a comparison with your best score), a reaction time number, the number of correct answers, and your accuracy. There's also a percentile ranking so you can see just how you're doing in comparison to the rest of the population.

Each training session consists of four stages. The next stage in my afternoon session consisted of the Missing Pieces game, where you decide which piece is missing after object drop through a funnel. Once again, speed and accuracy are rewarded, and you should get faster and more accurate as time goes by.

Fit Brains Trainer sessions can be accomplished in about five minutes, so it's a perfect way to build your brain power while not taking a big chunk of time out of your day. The games are challenging and get more so as time goes by, and new games are introduced regularly to keep you coming back.

If I have one complaint about Fit Brains Trainer, it's that the company's in-app purchases can be very confusing. For example, look at this sidebar from the App Store:

Confusing pricing for in-app purchases for Fit Brains Trainer

What's the difference between FULL ACCESS and COMPLETE? (the latter apparently provides access to seven other apps, but aren't they all included in the Fit Brains Trainer app? Why are there two prices - $24.99 and $49.99 - for the Lifetime FULL ACCESS purchase? Is one the discounted version unlocked with the email and the other the undiscounted version? Why is the COMPLETE annual subscription so incredibly expensive compared to the FULL ACCESS lifetime subscription? Why not just make it simple and fair and give everyone the lower price?

As you can tell, just trying to figure out what Rosetta Stone is trying to do with the confusing array of products and pricing is enough to exercise your brain. If you can get past that barrier and just enjoy the games, you'll find a well designed and implemented brain training app. Fit Brains Trainer is designed for both iPhone and iPad, so you can switch between devices as desired.