Consumers have been snapping up software and high-tech games that challenge their synapses. If you want to invest in some workout equipment, here are a few popular choices:
Brain Fitness Program: The only commercial software backed up by published research suggesting it enhances brain function. Users wear headphones and use a computer to perform audio exercises: identifying whether a tone is ascending or descending in pitch and distinguishing between two similar syllables, say. Such fine-tuning, developers claim, "repairs the machinery" of the brain, so it conveys information more precisely from one region to another and improves overall brain performance.
Cost: $395 for one user, $495 for two.
MindFit: PC software offering exercises to improve short-term memory, reaction time, eye-hand coordination, and more. Tracks performance over time.
Cost: $139 (download) or $149 (CD) for one user; additional users, $99 each.
Brain Age: Inspired by the research of a Japanese neuroscientist, this game for Nintendo's hand-held DS system includes 15 different puzzles and exercises, plus 100 Sudoku puzzles.
Cost: (for the game): $19.99.
Big Brain Academy: For Nintendo's Wii or DS hand-held systems. Up to eight players compete in myriad activities, from memorization to math problems to matching shapes to pictures.
Cost: (for the game): $49.99 (Wii); $19.99 (DS).
My Brain Trainer: A website offering 39 exercises.
Cost: $29.95 for one year.
Radica Brain Games and Brain Games 2: Mattel's hand-held games feature exercises that ask you to complete sequences, find hidden words, solve math problems, and more.
Cost: (for game and unit): $19.99