Memory game too boring to inspire anything other than forgetfulness
From 99 US cents
Apparently the rot of elderly forgetfulness and fuzzy thinking sets in earlier than the scientists had originally thought - at about 45 - according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal. However, other studies suggest that if you don't want to lose it, you have to use it.
Memory Matrix by Lumosity appeared to be just the app to stimulate my brain while in bank queues or waiting for the lift. The science section told me that one of the most important types of memory is known as working memory, which is used for temporarily storing and manipulating information; critical for reasoning, problem solving and language. Memory Matrix is designed by Lumosity scientists to improve this faculty.
So I started playing the game, which comprises an expanding grid where you are briefly shown a pattern of blocked-out squares, and you then repeat the pattern to the best of your ability on the next screen by touching the same squares in the clean grid. It starts with a three-by-three grid and expands to a five-by-five grid in 15 rounds per game.
I realise that on my own I am not a scientifically acceptable statistical sample, but I found that my memory retention got worse each time I played, with my score sinking from 1,140 to 905. Perhaps I am fooling myself, but I believe my brain's refusal to be improved had 100 per cent to do with boredom. Yes, the game is boring.
You can brighten things up by creating an account with Lumosity and receiving a free seven-day trial for the online service, where you'll find many more games, said to improve speed, memory, problem solving, flexibility and attention. The website is not designed for viewing on an iPhone, but you can download and pay for a selection of the game apps at prices ranging from 99 US cents to US$1.99.
Lumosity does give you the option to try before you buy in a 'free' app called Brain Trainer with five free sessions of a mix of the games. If I'd discovered this before buying the Memory Matrix app, I would be 99 cents the richer. While I cannot judge the efficacy of the online Lumosity program, the app failed to inspire me. I'll stick with Words with Friends.