Tips on Training in BrainHQ

How much time should I spend on BrainHQ?

Try to fit in at least 90 minutes of brain training a week. Many people tell us that 3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time works best for them.

Brain exercise is like physical exercise: making real and lasting changes takes effort.


How should I choose what to do?

On the web, there are two ways to train in BrainHQ: categories and challenges.

Choose a category if you want to work out major cognitive areas. The six categories include Memory, Brain Speed, Attention, People Skills, Intelligence, and Navigation. If you’re looking for general brain enhancement, you should train in all six categories. We recommend you start with Attention, and train on those exercise for a week. Move on to the next suite the following week. Cycle through each suite, then repeat! If there’s a specific cognitive area you’d like to improve, such as memory, we recommend you train twice as much in that category as in the others. However, the categories build on one another, so we encourage you to spend some time training outside of the specific area that interests you.

Choose a challenge if there a particular skill you want to improve (such as driving, social skills, or sports acuity) or if you are trying to recover from a particular brain-related issue (such as brain injury or chemobrain). Each challenge is a collection of exercises that our scientists believe are particularly helpful for that issue. Learn more about challenges.

On the iPad app, only challenges are available (not categories).

We’ve found that some people are looking for a general brain workout, while others are seeking to improve their performance for a specific reason. Either way, making long-lasting changes in neural connections requires sustained training.


How many times should I repeat a level?

You must beat your baseline for each level to unlock the next level. That means you have to repeat each level at least once. However, many people ask whether they should repeat levels more than once to increase their performance (shown in their number of stars). That’s a great idea. We recommend you challenge yourself to achieve the highest number of stars you can! That said, there is also a benefit to training in many different levels.

The benefit to training many times in the same level is that the brain changes best when it is challenged. Getting to a point where the exercise is hard for you--where your brain is challenged--helps your brain make lasting neuronal improvements. The benefit to training in multiple levels is that every exercise level is a little bit different that the other levels. Each one works out a slightly different set of neurons. In order to exercise as many neurons as you possibly can, you must train in many similar (but not the same) ways.


Do I have to complete all the levels in an exercise block?

We generally recommend doing your best to complete each exercise block (which we call a “stage”) you begin. When you complete all the levels in a stage, you unlock the next stage. However, if you are having trouble then you should focus on other exercises for a while. You can always come back to the stage later.

Every level of every exercise is a little bit different that the other levels. Each one works out a slightly different set of neurons. In order to exercise as many neurons as you possibly can, you must train in many similar (but not the same) ways.


What if I don’t like an exercise?

It’s a good idea to complete as many BrainHQ exercises as you can. However, if you really don’t like one, skip it!

All of our exercises target important areas of cognitive processing. However, we have built in some redundancy in the exercises within a category. You will still obtain most of the benefits by training on the other exercises in that category. Also, if you continue to use an exercise you dislike, you may want to quit your brain training. Continue to exercise your brain is far more important than completing any individual exercise!


What if I get bored with an exercise?

If you find yourself getting bored with an exercise, take a break from that exercise for a while and come back to it at a future date.

It is important that you are motivated and alert when doing the exercises to maximize the training effect. Being alert and interested causes the brain to release more neuromodulators (brain chemicals important to learning and remembering). Being bored makes this neuromodulatory release more sluggish, so you don’t learn and remember as well.


What if I want to take a break from training?

We realize that there might be times where it will be difficult to maintain your training. For example, you might need to take a break to go on vacation or maybe your life has become extra busy for a while. The good news is that even after taking a break from training the benefits of training remain for a long time. However, we recommend that a break should not last longer than 3 months. One of the great things about BrainHQ is that when you return to training the exercises quickly adapt to your current performance level.

Although some benefits from brain training can last for a long time(several years according to some studies), there is a decline associated with long periods of non-training. So if you stop training for more than three months, you are likely to move a little backward.


How long do I have to train before I see benefits?

People see benefits at different times; some see them with as little as two hours of training, while others take much longer. We recommend you give yourself at least five hours of training to see noticeable improvements in brain performance. Benefits will continue to expand as you train beyond that.

As with physical fitness, brain fitness requires a sustained effort before you can see visible change. That’s why it’s important to give yourself some time.


Can I get benefits if I only use the free exercises?

Although the free exercises have limited content, they can still help your brain. The exercises continually adapt to your level of skill. So if you keep repeating the levels, you will continue to train your brain.

However, you will get a more robust and thorough brain training experience with a subscription to all exercises.