Having a few moments of forgetfulness is possible as we get older. These occasional moments of memory lapse can motivate us to find tools that will help maintain and improve our brain function and health.
There have been a lot of claims that brain games can actually improve your memory, although science still doesn’t have concrete proof. Luckily progress is being made in that area.
Brain games are basically activities that help stimulate our thinking. They can include word puzzles, crosswords, Scrabble, chess, Sudoku and also some software games that you can play on your smartphone or tablets.
These games are meant to be stimulating but their long-term effects are still to be determined. Some research has found evidence that they help slow down the progress of dementia, while other research programs found no such evidence. So there’s still no unilateral opinion.
On the other hand, most scientist agree that brain games can actually sharpen certain mental skills which are known to decline over time for example processing speed, decision making, reaction time, short-term memory etc.
We can also help our memory buildup with brain games through a process called cognitive reserve. Think of cognitive reserve as your brain’s savings account for rainy days. When you need quick thinking, you can tap into your reserve. Furthermore, this reserve can actually make you more resilient to illnesses that comes with old age such as dementia.
In order to improve our cognitive reserve, we need to combine both physical and mental exercise. Getting at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise to stay physically active can be really beneficial. Physical activity can increase the blood flow to the parts of the brain which are associated with memory storage. And even if you don’t manage to get 150 minutes of activity, make sure that you get at least some. It’s better than nothing.
The beneficial effects of physical activity can further be expanded with the help of brain games. It has been proven that further education, socializing, cultural activities and idea discussing, when combined with physical activity, can have great impact on the formation of your cognitive reserve.
Brain games that can help you boost your memory
Our brain can be compared to digital drives, that are able to store an immense amount of information – some scientist measure this to 3 million hours of television program. In order to retrieve that knowledge is no easy task, but luckily these games can help you keep your mind in tip-top shape.
This is one of the most common games for cognitive workout. There are several studies that show connection between the habit of doing crossword puzzles and delayed onset dementia. However, there is a catch. People that often do crossword puzzles tend to become really good at them. And as you get better and better, you complete each puzzle in record time and don’t challenge your brain hard enough in order to provide any useful stimuli. So instead of using JUST crossword puzzles, try and combine them with other word search games to keep things interesting and challenging.
Video games that focus on developing multitasking
Action video games can be fun, but their primary goal is just that, fun. They don’t necessarily boost your cognitive function or improve memory. So instead of action video games, try and find ones that will engage your working memory or will require you to recall information while solving another problem. These games are excellent in boosting your ability to cope with distractions.
When it comes to applications for smartphones and tablet devices, there is literally an abundance to choose from, but we would recommend the following:
- Fit Brains Trainer
- CogniFit Brain Fitness
- Clockwork Brain
- Elevate and many more
This is probably one of the most famous number brain teasers in the world. This game will make you rely heavily on your working memory since you have to remember the position of numbers in a nine-space grid. Sudoku is best to play when your brain is still not used to organizing scheme. If you notice that it’s getting easier, switch to something new.
Chess is considered to be one of the most intellectually challenging game there is. Those who are new to this game, rely on short-term memory when they analyze the board and try to figure out their next move. However, as you get better at chess, you will switch from short-term to long-term memory because you will retain information for a longer period of time. All the famous chess masters rely heavily on long-term memory. Hopefully this shortlist of games will help you to start working on your memory and cognitive ability early on. Don’t think of this as a “must do”, because you won’t enjoy it nearly as much. Try to combine the useful and practical side of this with a little bit of fun. You will enjoy it for sure!