I started playing brain training games (Lumosity and Elevate) few years ago when I realized that my memory was going down the hill and I had lot of small chunks of time between doing things.

First, it was awesome. The games were well designed and my cognitive skills improved. Not sure if it will fully prevent degenerative brain diseases but it did definitely lubricated my brain (see Lumosity’s settlement with FTC for false advertisement). I played into the reward system and raised my levels quite high.

However, some time passed and I started playing less. Part of it was due to my busy schedule but the larger issue were the following. First, your brain is quite adaptive. After a while the games were not simulating or fun. It became dull.The returns of playing the game diminished drastically. Although Elevate really does its best to update its content, it was still not as fun. Second, I was not sure whether looking at a small phone screen was the best way to stimulate my brain. Of course, given time and location constraints, brain training games are great. However, I did realize that introspection and reasoning out ideas on a simple pen and paper stimulated my brain more and made things more interesting. I also realized very short writing, maybe writing few random thoughts got my brain sharper. Hence, I started playing less.

Brain training games have their places. They are good to re-lubricate your brain. They are excellent to exercise your brain under time and location constraints. However, their returns decrease dramatically with time as the stimulation is limited. Yup, old school reflection and jotting down thoughts still works very well for your brain.

PS

Maybe Virtual reality will take brain training games to the next level soon.