You begin by getting an MBI (“Mensa Brain Index”)—a baseline test of your memory, concentration, agility, perception, and reasoning. To get this MBI, you have to play three different kinds of games: Square Sequences, Tangram, and Colored Words. Then the app diagnoses your weak areas.
In my case, perception was the weakest area: “Your MBI Result indicates that Perception is an area that could be improved. Tap the ring to re-order the list of games.” I tapped the ring and the games were shuffled so that the games that help perception were at the top. Okay, then.
Included in Mensa Brain Training are six games, and I tried them all a few times:
- Snowflake Match: you see a picture of a snowflake and you have to pick from several pieces of snowflake the one that would fit this particular snowflake.
- Tangram: You see blocks of shapes and you have to select the shapes that are grayed out.
- Honeycomb recall: You look at two versions of a pattern and pick the part that’s different.
- Shape Sums: You quickly add up groups of dots.
- Colored Words: You see four words that name colors, and the words are colored either the same as the word describes or not the same. You have to pick the odd one out in the list. (It’s harder to explain than it is to do.)
- Square Sequences: You get a grid and numbers show up in certain spots on the grid, then disappear. You then have to touch the screen in the correct sequential order. It’s easy when there are only three numbers; it gets hard when there are eight.
You’re supposed to play the games every day and slowly improve your memory, concentration, agility, perception, and reasoning over a long period of time. But is there proof that this game will do all that?
Scientific American says these types of games probably do work, but there’s not much proof they work better than other kinds of activities, like walking, playing cards, or watching educational videos. And a recent study suggests that action-adventure video games might help your brain more than the games specifically developed as “brain trainers.”
Here’s the problem with Mensa Brain Training: it’s not very much fun. I cannot imagine going back to it every single day in an effort to improve my brain when I know other games that are really fun to play might do the job better. And Mensa Brain Training is free to download (you get a 7-day free trial), but it appears from the game’s App Store page that a 1-year subscription is $9.99! (I couldn’t find any mention on the website about the subscription cost.)
Mensa Brain Training is available for the iPhone and iPad. Personally, I’d never pay for a subscription, because I know I’d get bored with this game and because there are tons of video games out there that are probably at least as effective, don’t cost as much, and are a heck of a lot more fun.