Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day

Review: Brain Age, Nintendo's smash hit in Japan, is finally available in the States. Is it really going to make you smarter? Read this review and find out.

It has long been argued and theorized that playing videogames has an effect on your skills of reasoning, deduction and problem-solving. Its not hard to see why: a good majority of games require quick thinking and fast reflexes—a constant engagement of the players mental faculties. Its incredibly interesting, then, that the game that finally may prove this to be true, Nintendos Brain Age, isnt really a game at all.

Stripped down to the most basic of mental exercises, theres no "winning" in Brain Age. Beginning with the very first age check, the point of this program is to flex your grey matter, completing the exercises on a daily basis and charting your progress over time—ideally, your gradual improvement. Based on the popular writings of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima (who appears as your polygonal, disembodied guide and coach), research has proven that the Brain Age exercises do in fact increase the flow of blood—and life-sustaining oxygen—to vital parts of the brain.

Drills such as Calculations (solving an assembly line of very basic math problems) and Head Count (keeping track of how many people enter and leave a house) challenge how fast you can keep up with numbers, while exercises like Low to High (completing a sequence of numbers in ascending order) and Word Memory (memorizing as many 4-letter words as possible in 2 minutes) work your concentration and memory. Even the simple act of reading text out loud can have an effect. All of these exercises seem to do a similar thing, but just as there are hundreds of ways to work out your leg or abdominal muscles, Brain Age provides a well-rounded training regimen for the noggin.

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