Though it may not look very different from other (dubiously beneficial) brain-training games, Brain Workshop is special in that there's a growing body of evidence to suggest that it may actually succeed in making its players a little bit smarter.

Free, cross platform, and open source, Brain Workshop is founded upon the "dual n-back," a tricky sort of memory game where the objective is to keep track of two unrelated sequences of events at once. In most versions of the game, that means paying attention to a spoken list of letters while simultaneously tracking the changing position of a block on a three-by-three grid. Every turn, the game provides a letter and grid position and, every turn, the player has to indicate whether these newest values match the ones given a fixed number of turns ago. The more you play, the higher that number gets. Sound tiring? It can be! But it can also be kind of energizing. The dual n-back is, in that sense, the only brain exercise we've encountered that actually feels like conventional exercise.

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