N-back Suite

App review by
Erin Wilkey Oh, Common Sense Media
N-back Suite App Poster Image
Tough memory exercises require self-motivation.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to identify their strengths and weaknesses as they exercise working memory with these n-back tasks. With the various options for stimuli, kids may find they are better at remembering one type of stimulus over another -- colors better than sounds, for example. N-back Suite encourages self-assessment, which helps players challenge themselves to improve and stretch their memory skills -- but only if they can stay motivated to continue.

Ease of Play

The app is pretty easy to figure out if players are familiar with n-back tasks. If not, the question mark icon takes them to a help page on the developer's website, where they can read a brief explanation of how to play. There are a lot of settings options to make the exercises accessible to all levels including single or double n-back, setting the number back from 1 to 10, and the speed of the stimuli from 1 to 5. The higher levels and speeds can be very challenging.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that N-back Suite offers a set of challenging tasks designed to exercise and stretch players' working memory. There are more customization options in N-back Suite than in the apps n-back and NBack, but the memory task is essentially the same. Players see or hear a sequence of stimuli (colors, letters, etc.) and must try to remember the nth stimulus back. Players can choose speed of play, type of stimulus, and difficulty. The easiest settings make the exercises accessible to kids, but the difficulty ramps up quickly.

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What's it about?

In this set of mental exercises, players see or hear a sequence of stimuli and attempt to remember the nth back in the series. Players can choose to practice with colors, images, 3x3 squares, letters, and sounds. For example, if players set the n-back to four and colors, they must remember the color they saw four times before the current color. If it is the same as the one they currently see, they tap the screen. Players can also choose to follow one sequence or two at once (called double n-back). Times and scores are recorded in the app.

Is it any good?

Most of the n-back apps we've found aren't designed with engagement in mind, making them pretty dry. N-BACK SUITE is no exception. Though researchers and psychologists feel that n-back tasks are good exercises for our working memory, expert opinions are unlikely to motivate a 10-year-old. N-back apps seem to be designed more for adults, who are self-motivated to keep their mental facilities sharp.

To its credit, N-back Suite offers more customization than similar apps, which makes it accessible to kids -- at least at the easiest levels. And when players answer incorrectly, their scores lower but the round continues, making gameplay last a bit longer than in other versions we've seen. Data recording for each variation of the task lets players compare their performance using the different stimuli, which can give them some insight into their mental strengths and weaknesses.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Some researchers say n-back tasks can help kids improve working memory. Challenge your kids to play a few minutes each day and keep track of their progress.

  • Help your kids identify strengths and weaknesses as they play. Knowledge of their mental processing strengths can be a starting point for developing learning strategies.

App details

Our editors recommend

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