“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistingushable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke

About the Program

What we have taken what is now known about the brain from neuroscience research, along with proven techniques from decades of clinical practice – and we have combined them with the best practices of video-game technology to produce the most comprehensive, effective and engaging brain building software on the market.

Here are the basic principles – the neuroscientific ingredients – around which BrainWare SAFARI was created.

Principle 1: Neuroplasticity.

The general term for the brain’s ability to change and to develop in response to its environment and the demands being placed on it is “neuroplasticity.” Essentially, our brains develop by organizing themselves, creating and pruning neural pathways, connections and networks in response to the environment and our individual experience. Brain development and specific patterns of neural connections are not genetically predetermined in the way that attributes like red hair or blue eyes are determined. While intellect and learning ability are guided by our genetic code, they arise in significant part through the process of development. The plasticity of the brain is greater in children, but the brain exhibits the ability to change and develop throughout life.

A number of recent studies have focused on the use of computerized techniques, especially video games, to deliver training that can leverage neuroplasticity to enhance brain function and have shown that learning from video games can transfer to nongame situations. For example, in one study, training designed to improve working memory (the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind) was reflected in improvements in fluid intelligence. The study also documented a relationship between the amount of training and the magnitude of the improvement.

Principle 2: Automaticity.

Neuroscience has distinguished multiple types of memory, including declarative and procedural memory. When a certain set of steps or processes are performed repeatedly, the processes are embedded in procedural memory and do not require conscious thought to execute (like riding a bike or driving to a familiar location). When a skill or process becomes embedded in procedural memory, it is said to have become automatic. Neural connections are strengthened by repetition, leading to the ability to perform a function without consciously thinking about it and requiring less energy than if the skill is not automatic.

Our brains can only perform one skill consciously at a time. When multiple cognitive skills are required, as in most learning situations, all but one of those skills must be performed automatically, at the non-conscious level. When a skill becomes automatic and does not require conscious thought, it is possible for an individual to perform that skill at the same time as other skills. Basic skills, such as shifting our attention, keeping information in a sequence and  visual span (as examples) must be functioning at the automatic level in order to enable an individual to allocate conscious thought to other activities, such as learning, comparing, deciding, and planning drawing conclusions and the like.

Principle 3: Cognitive skills are highly integrated and interdependent, like a web.

Mental processing (cognitive) skills are highly integrated in effective brain functioning. When our brains perform a variety of automatic functions simultaneously, those activities must be coordinated to be effective (seeing and motor control, to give a simple example, in eye-hand coordination). If certain skills are weak or deficient, that will impact the efficiency of other mental processes and the overall effectiveness of mental functioning.

Repeating a single skill over and over can lead to improvement in that skill and ultimately automaticity, but the integration of multiple skills is what pushes critical skills more quickly to the nonconscious level. The approach of putting demands on multiple skills at the same time, referred to as “cognitive loading,” is exploited in BrainWare Safari in a comprehensive “cross-training” approach that integrates multiples skills within an exercise and across exercises.

Principle 4: The importance of the visual system.

Researchers estimate that 80% of what we learn involves our visual system. In fact, vision is by far the most dominant sense, taking up about half of the brain’s resources. Visual processing, visualization and spatial-temporal reasoning are vital in learning and thinking. The ability to transform thoughts into images is what drives new concepts, new ideas, new feelings, and ultimately new behaviors. It is said that Albert Einstein processed information primarily in images, and Beethoven was deaf, but could picture music in his mind.

BrainWare SAFARI puts particular emphasis on visual processing skills (including visual thinking) – developing the capabilities of the “mind’s eye” – and memory. Skills such as visual span (the use of peripheral vision involved for visual discrimination and/or scanning), visual figure-ground, visual sequential and simultaneous processing and visualization are all worked extensively in combination with attention, auditory, memory and reasoning skills.

Principle 5: The need for progressive and appropriately sequenced challenge.

Cognitive development occurs at the outer edges of our competence. Therefore, sequenced challenges that address the range of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses are required to provide the appropriate levels of challenge and intensity. If a task is too far above our current state of development, we will become frustrated and may not persist. If tasks are too easy, we become bored.

BrainWare Safari’s exercises are designed to build from relatively easy levels through more difficult ones. This helps to ensure that the user is working at an appropriate level of challenge and personalizes the experience in the sense that the user will be more challenged by and spend longer on the levels that address weaker processing areas and less time and effort on the exercises and levels that address areas of strength.  The freedom to move among exercises to develop skills in different ways and different combinations also helps the individual to optimize the level of intensity and challenge.  The exercises in BrainWare Safari were designed with the methodical sequencing need for “smart practice” (intense and rewarding repetition). Importantly, the program avoids the kind of predictable progression that would cause the brain would to lose interest and the necessary level of intensity. BrainWare Safari is designed to make the progression from one level to the next novel and interesting.

Principle 6: The importance of frequency and intensity.

Development of any physical or mental function requires the discipline of frequent challenge at an appropriate level of intensity. The brains of experts consume less energy to perform a practiced activity and, in fact, can often do the activity “without thinking” or without conscious evaluation. We may talk about “muscle memory” (for example for a concert pianist or Tiger Woods on the golf course) but we are actually describing the development of procedural memory in the brain. Frequent practice with intensity leads to automaticity of skills.


The recommended usage protocol for BrainWare Safari is 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week, for 10 to 12 weeks. This is the level of frequency and intensity that has been shown to drive rapid skill development and significant cognitive growth for the user. It may be desirable to adjust the recommended protocol for certain users, such as those with more severe learning difficulties, autism, or very young (the program is recommended for ages 6 and up through adults).

Principle 7: Feedback.

Immediate feedback is necessary to enable error correction and faster, more accurate learning. The speed of feedback also enables more repetitions to be executed in a given amount of time. In addition to the feedback overtly provided by a video game, there is evidence that success in a video game is related to release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is involved in learning and feelings of reward.

BrainWare provides immediate feedback to the user through various mechanisms built into the game. There is no waiting to have a challenge or level scored; the computer response is instantaneous. Positive encouragement is offered continuously as the user progresses through the program. At each challenge, at each level, and upon the completion of exercises, positive and entertaining messages are delivered and the character the player has chosen at the beginning grows, reflecting the development in cognitive skills the player is experiencing. Finally, in many of the settings in which BrainWare Safari is used (schools and various clinical therapies), a coach also plays a role in feedback and support.

Principle 8: Engagement (fun) is vital.

Stimulation is an important factor in motivating attention and meaningful participation in a learning activity. In fact, the science and education communities are increasingly recognizing the value of digital game-based learning (“DGBL”).  The compelling characteristics of good video games motivate initial engagement with a challenging activity and can help sustain motivation as the challenge progresses. Persistence motivated by a feedback loop reinforces and supports the natural mechanisms in the brain that reward us for accomplishing something challenging.

BrainWare incorporates multimedia video-gaming technology with entertaining themes, characters, animation, and interactive elements to stimulate interest. The inherently interesting features of the program help provide intrinsic motivation to persist and overcome more difficult levels. And, unlike many other mental fitness software programs, the exercises in BrainWare Safari are mutually reinforcing and supportive. As a result, when a user reaches a level in a particular exercise that seems extremely difficult, he/she can move to other exercises that help build those same skills in a slightly different way. Frequently upon returning to the troubling exercise, the user passes it with much less difficulty.

An expanded discussion of these principles may be found in The Research Foundation for BrainWare SafariReferences are included in that document as well as in our Brainy Bibliography.

Success Stories from Our Users

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Homeschooling Parents Say ... I Find the Exercises Challenging for Myself

by J.Detweiler, Homeschooling Parent

"My daughter, who is 8 years old, really enjoys BrainWare Safari. She has Sensory Processing Disorder; her vision and auditory system are impacted by this. The games do a great job targeting the skills she needs improvement on. We've found some of the games are similar to exercises her vision therapist was having her do. The one exception though is BrainWare Safari does it in a way that's more fun. As a parent, I enjoy watching her play the games and find them challenging for myself."

Grandparents Say ... We’re Seeing Benefits We Never Thought We Would Get

by Paul A. (Gregory, Age 11)

"When I heard about BrainWare Safari, I immediately thought of my grandson, Gregory, who has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). BrainWare is helping Greg learn strategy. If he can't do an exercise because he has a problem with his ADD, he develops a strategy so that he can find a way to do it. He learns how to use his brain in dfferent ways to help him with his speed. We're seeing benefits we never thoguht we would get which are helping us combat his deficiency."

Kids Say ... I Beat It!

by Adam K. (Age 12)

"It was really fun. Some levels were really easy, but others got harder and harder. I didn't think that I could beat the last level of one of the exercises, but I worked on it and beat it!"

Educators Say ... More Rapidly Closes the Gap in Skills That Are Difficult to Remediate

by Sheila Govern, Principal, Lyons Elementary, AZ

"Students who used BrainWare Safari in 3rd grade and returned in 4th grade reduced the gap between their performance and expectation by at least half on reading tests. Students who used the program in 4th grade and returned in 5th grade reduced the gap by 75%. We currently focus on using the program with Title I students because it helps them more rapidly close the gap by developing skills they lack and that are difficult to remediate in any other way. We wish funding permitted us to use the program with all of our students."

Kids Say ... My Teacher Was Very Impressed

by Rachael H. (Age 7)

"I think it was fun and it helps me with my memory. When I had Chinese class, I got all of them right. The teacher was very impressed."

Parents Say ... I Noticed A Difference in His Schoolwork

by Debra W. (Demar, Age 10

"I noticed a difference in his schoolwork. When I went in to see his teacher, she told me how well he was maturing, how well he'd done in his classes, and how easy it was for him to make progress. She now has to keep up with hin in his schoolwork. Before he was slower and afraid to make decisions. Now he makes decisions for both of us. He likes BrainWare Safari. I love it!"

Parents Say ... They Feel They’re Growing

by Carolyn D. (Drew, Age 11)

"BrainWare Safari built Drew's confidence to know that he could go further even when it was hard. He liked the way the characters grew up. I think it translates to the kids and they feel they're growing."

Educators Say ... Helping Our Students Close Academic Gaps

by Anne Budicin, Resource Teacher, Glenwood School

"Because of our students' backgrounds, we are always striving to provide them with opportunities that close academic gaps and help them achieve their true potential. BrainWare Safari is an essential part of achieving this. It helped our students improve their shor-term, long-term and working memory. Teachers have seen improvement in attentiveness during lessons and noted better recall of information. Ultimately, BrainWare Safari helps to prepare our students for high school and beyond by bridging those gaps in achievement and cognitive processing."

Educators Say ... Preparing Our Kids for Problems We’ve Never Thought About

by Peter Kline, Author of "The Everyday Genius"

"Information is growing at a pace never before seen in the history of the world. Today we have billions of times more information than we had half a century ago. It is more and more difficult to find people who can do the jobs that need to be done today. Our children and grandchildren are growing up into a world where they'll have to deal with problems we've haven't thought about. BrainWare Safari is one of the tools that can make that experience delightful instead of frightening and threatening."

Educators Say ... Gives Teachers Valuable Data They Can Use to Improve Their Instruction

by Dr. Lou Whitaker, Principal, Pope John Paul II, FL

"The area we noticed the greatest improvement in was the attitude of the students. They enjoyed playing the games and the teachers and parents noticed the students were able to complete homework assignments with less stress and frustration--which was a direct result of BrainWare Safari. As an educator for over forty years, I have spent my career looking for new, innovative programs that produce results, give teachers valuable data they can use to improve their instruction, get students excited about learning, and put fun back in the classroom. BrainWare Safari is such a program."

Credibility Counts

  • CODiE Award
    CODiE Award
    Best Education Game or Simulation, Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).
  • American Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Award Winner
    American Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Award Winner
    Quality and innovation that embody the 21st Century classroom with technology as a hallmark.
  • Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval Winner
    Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval Winner
    Quality products and services with assurance of product excellence as evaluated by unbiased parent consumers.
  • Teachers’ Choice Award Winner
    Teachers’ Choice Award Winner
    Products of exceptional quality and outstanding performance in the classroom and at home.
  • Mom’s Choice Award Winner
    Mom’s Choice Award Winner
    Excellence in family-friendly media, products and services.
  • EdNET Rookie of the Year
    EdNET Rookie of the Year
    Awarded by Quality Education Data/The Heller Reports to the start-up with the most promise for becoming a major future force in the education industry.
  • Parents’ Choice Award
    Parents’ Choice Award
    The Parents’ Choice Foundation honors the best material for children.
  • District Administration Top 100
    District Administration Top 100
    One of the top 100 products of 2011 as chosen by readers of District Administration Magazine.
  • Academics’ Choice Mindspring Award
    Academics' Choice Mindspring Award
    Recognized as one of the best thinking-based products on the market.