June 20, 2023
Beth Galvin

Anita Hilbun of Alpharetta, Georgia, who turns 60 in July, says she has been trying to do everything she can to stay healthy as she ages.

“I’m a vegetarian, and I exercise, so I felt like I was taking care of myself physically,” Hilbun says.

But the career call center manager, who has an autoimmune disorder that can affect her cognitive function, is also trying to stay as mentally sharp as she can.

So, two years ago, Hilbun found a cognitive training app called BrainHQ.

A subscription is $94 a year, or just under $8 a month.

Hilbun says it offers a series of games with a goal.

“BrainHQ, as I can explain it as succinctly as possible, is an app to develop your cognitive skills, your memory, your organizational skills, your planning skills, and your visual processing,” Hilbun explains.

Each morning, she plays a series of games that BrainHQ’s creators, Posit Science, say are clinically proven to improve cognitive function.

“Some days I am very reluctant to open it, because it is very challenging,” Hilbun says. “You basically earn stars for your ability to process quickly, your ability to memorize, remember, your ability for spatial awareness. The quicker you are, the more accurately you do it, the more stars you accumulate.”

Diana Flores, a speech-language pathologist at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, says they use several brain-training apps with their patients.

There’s definitely no harm in kind of spending some focused time to work on a skill,” Flores says.

The apps, she says, are just part of a toolbox of approaches they take to help patients practice some of the skills they learn at Shepherd Center once they get home.

“But, also, sometimes we talk about using like your planner or your phone. So, I think it’s just one of the tools that we have to kind of help the skills that we’re trying to reinforce,” she says.

Flores says they try to match patients to the right app for their needs, encouraging them to use it regularly.

“I think it’s like a workout program, just like you’re working out your other muscles, you’re working out your brain,” Flores explains. “So, I think it’s the consistency with the use of it, and also the guidance, because every app is not appropriate for every patient.”

Hilbun says she recently had a neurological assessment and says she did pretty well.

“I’m in remission for my medical condition,” Hilbun says. “That probably helps, but I think BrainHQ has helped a lot, also.”

She encourages others to check out the app, which Hilbus says she likes.

“I think it’s very challenging,” she says. “And, I think, if anybody were to decide to purchase it, they need to commit to using it because it does help, but it can be really tough. It can be time-consuming.”