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Get smart. Get really smart.

June 13, 2006|by ROBERT KELLER

How fast can you calculate simple math problems or read aloud? You can find out on Brain Age, an interactive Nintendo DS game that allows you to read and write using the DS's stylus.

It is good to train your brain, because it makes your prefrontal cortex much stronger at reading and calculating. That will come in handy in school.

You can train your brain very easily. To be good at sports, you have to practice. This game acts the same way. You have to train your brain to get a good brain age.

There are two ways to check your brain's age. You either speak into the DS using its microphone or write on the touch screen with the stylus.

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If you prefer to talk, you will be challenged with one of two tests. You might take the "stroop test," featuring a running list of words naming colors - red, green, pink, etc. The words appear in colors - different colors from the word names - and you have to say the color of the word, not the color the word describes.

Or you might be challenged to do speed counting, where you have to count from 1 to 120 as fast as you can. Be sure to enunciate clearly or the game might not understand you.

If you choose to write, you will be presented with three of four tests. One of them is Word Memory, where you have to memorize as many words from a list as you can in two minutes, then write them down within three minutes. Calculations 20 requires you to solve twenty simple problems as fast as you can. Connect Maze requires you to connect (in a particular pattern) letters and numbers scattered across the screen. Last, you could get Number Cruncher, where you have to answer a question about numbers on the screen.

After you finish your tests, you learn your brain age. After that, you train: Play games; design a stamp; even play the numbers game sudoku.

Whenever you do a brain check that requires you to speak, hold the DS away from your mouth. Speak slowly so that the DS can understand you. Don't worry if it doesn't understand what you said at first. Just move the DS back; speak slower.

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