Can Brain Games Really Help Improve Your Cognitive Intelligence?
Brain games are promoted as a method for boosting your mental capabilities. People often claim that brain teasers and games that make you think help increase your intellect. So, can brain games really help improve your cognitive intelligence?
Research suggests that playing a few hours of brain games per week has a positive impact on the brain. Challenging games may help improve focus, memory, and mental processing abilities. Here is a closer look at the benefits and limitations of brain games for improving your intelligence.
What Is a Brain Game?
Brain games are games that require you to use your mind to find solutions. Traditional examples of brain games include crossword puzzles, riddles, word problems, and brain teasers. Brain games also include competitive strategy games, such as chess, Scrabble, and even tic-tac-toe.
Thanks to modern technology, you also have access to an endless selection of video games and mobile apps that require you to use your brain. From word games to adventure games, many modern video games involve problem-solving or require a high level of focus.
How Can Brain Games Enhance Your Intellect?
Evidence shows that playing certain types of games and completing puzzles help maintain or improve brain power. Certain types of activities require the brain to reorganize and form new synaptic connections. These neural connections strengthen your memory, attention span, and other areas of your brain function.
Based on the latest research, playing brain games may help:
- Improve your memory
- Increase your attention span
- Prevent cognitive decline
- Improve problem-solving skills
- Increase your overall mental agility
Let’s examine these benefits in more detail:
1. Improve Your Memory
Improving your ability to memorize things is one of the most widely recognized benefits of playing brain games. New research shows that brain training games may improve your working memory. The research focused on older adults already experiencing cognitive decline. However, the research still indicates the potential for brain games to help with your memory.
A new study also found that people who played video games during adolescence had greater working memory compared to those who did not. The research shows the ability of video games to have a lasting effect on your brain.
2. Increase Your Attention Span
Playing brain games may improve your attention span. Researchers have found that playing just one hour of video games can increase your focus and help block out distractions.
In a recent study, 29 participants completed multiple gaming sessions. Researchers assessed the visual selective attention of each participant before and after the video game sessions. Visual selective attention is your brain’s ability to stay focused. Researchers also monitored brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG) machines.
Participants showed higher visual selective attention and brain activity after each game session. Yet, those who had more experience playing video games showed a larger increase in their attention span.
3. Prevent Cognitive Declin
Several studies have explored the benefits of brain games for decreasing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and slowing the progression of cognitive decline.
Scientists know that keeping your mind active helps keep it sharp. One study found that exercising the mind delayed the decline of thinking skills. Studies have also found that performing mentally stimulating activities, which includes playing games, can delay age-related memory loss. One study found that reading and working on puzzles may delay the onset of dementia by up to five years. However, the same study also found that engaging in social activities had a greater impact on reducing cognitive decline.
4. Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills
Playing brain games a few hours per week may improve your ability to solve problems. Solving puzzles and completing mental challenges require you to think critically. The skills that you use during certain types of brain games can enhance your problem-solving skills by strengthening connections in the brain.
Working on a puzzle may require you to try different approaches and think several steps ahead. Testing your theories and learning from trial and error helps boost your brainpower and logical thinking abilities.
Scientists also believe that puzzles require you to use both sides of your brain. You need to use your analytical and creative sides of the brain to solve crossword puzzles, word problems, and other brain games.
5. Increase Your Overall Mental Agility
Studies suggest that playing brain games may also improve your overall mental agility. You may find that you process information and make decisions with greater ease. Some games also require you to think quickly. You need to react fast to succeed at many video games and mobile games, such as puzzle games with timers or competitive games.
The brain is a muscle. As with other muscles, you can train your brain and make it stronger. You achieve this by developing new connections, which occurs every time that you learn something new. Solving a puzzle or completing a mental challenge allows you to continue exercising your brain.
What to Consider When Playing Video Games and Brain Games
Before you devote all your spare time to playing video games, you need to realize that not all games help in the same way. Some games target different skill sets.
For example, strategy games and puzzles (Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and Scrabble) may have a larger impact on your working memory. These games require you to recall information and use your logical thinking skills.
Action-oriented games, such as first-person shooters and third-person shooters, may help improve your response speed and visual attention. Games that require you to think quickly may boost your mental agility and attention span.
You may also want to set a time limit when playing video games. Most of the research involved playing one to three hours of video games per week. Spending too much time gaming may increase your risk of neglecting chores and developing an addiction to video games.
You should also understand that brain games do not provide a stand-alone solution for improving your cognitive power. Research suggests that increasing your memory also requires regular exercise, adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and socialization.
Brain games can have a positive impact on your intellect, especially if your daily activities and responsibilities do not stimulate your brain. Playing challenging games helps use areas of your brain connected to memory, focus, and problem-solving.
Yet, brain games are not a complete solution for boosting your brainpower. Remember that you also need to eat right, get enough sleep, and socialize.
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