Recently, there’s been a huge surge in the number of brain training apps, and even physical games, designed to boost your cognitive ability, improve your memory, stall the aging process, and stave off brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. This is great news because keeping your brain young will only improve your life as you get older. However, with so many options out there, how do you know which ones to choose?
Never fear, this article is here to help you keep your brain in tip-top shape by telling you what brain training games are, showing you the benefits of brain games for adults, as well as talking about which ones are best for you.
What Are Brain Training Games?
Brain training games are games that help to exercise your brain through a process called neuroplasticity, which modifies the connections between the neurons in your brain. That sounds a little scary, but it’s really just about improving your ability to learn new skills, perfect old ones, and form new memories.
These brain games for adults generally take the form of puzzles that require you to memorize a list of words or spot the odd one out in a photo set. The idea is that it will help to improve your general memory abilities and help you to concentrate better on difficult everyday tasks, like filing taxes, trying out a new recipe, or studying for your chemistry exam.
Why Should Adults Use Them?
Now that you know what brain games for adults are let’s look at some of the benefits of using them.
Improved Brain Fitness
We all know the importance of keeping our bodies active to remain healthy, but what about our minds? Improved mental agility will help you remember things more efficiently – from how to work out the area of a circle to where you left your keys – and help you learn new skills faster. This is perfect if you’re learning a new language or taking up a new hobby.
Less Chance Of Developing Brain Disease
Studies by researchers at King’s College London and US neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley show that older participants who used brain training games showed improved cognitive abilities and reasoning skills. Also, researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Centre found that senior citizens who stayed mentally active longer delayed the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Researchers at the Max-Planck Institute demonstrated that exercising your brain can improve working memory for people of all age groups. This can all help to keep you independent for longer.
Ultimately, brain games can help reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but could also negate the impacts of conditions like Huntington’s disease or ADHD. Importantly, these games are not a substitute for medical treatment, but rather a supplement.
Can Be Quick
To be clear, results are unlikely to be instantaneous, although you may see improvements sooner than you think, as it doesn’t take long to play certain games. This means that you can do a puzzle while waiting for the bus or play a card game in line at the DMV, making use of your downtime. So, you don’t have to set aside a specific period in the day to play, which is important because it would likely be the first thing sacrificed when life gets in the way.
Reduced Risk Of Mental Illness
We’ve already spoken about how brain training games can reduce the effects of brain illnesses, but it also has the power to improve your mental health. These games could significantly change the way the medical community treats neurological disorders and the like, by reducing dependence on medical tablets and increasing use of electrical tablets. As with the above, you shouldn’t ditch your medication in favor of the latest app. Instead, try it in conjunction and talk to your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.
Improved Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, which is how well you manage your own emotions and react to those of others, is essential to your everyday life. Luckily, there are also brain training games that can help you boost your social awareness, self-management, and relationship skills.
Are There Any Downsides To Brain Games For Adults?
Actually, this is one of the few instances where there may not be a downside. Exercising your brain is always going to be good, no matter how you do it. But these brain training games are specifically designed to improve memory retention and cognitive abilities, so they have a clear advantage.
Some people do often bring up the cost of various apps or games are a negative factor, but truthfully there are plenty of cheap (or even free games) out there. Plus, while some games can be quite pricey, you have to weigh the benefits against the cost. Think about some other entertainment products that you might buy for the same price (or more) are much less helpful to your cognitive abilities.
What Are The Best Brain Training Games?
So, you’ve learned about all the benefits of brain training games, but which ones are right for you? Well, it depends on what you want to target, what medium you want to use, and how much you want to spend, so we’ve divided our selection up into those categories.
Best Brain Training Apps
This brain training service is one of the most popular in the world. It offers a free account where users can play three games per day or a paid-for account with unlimited puzzles. These games, designed by neuroscientists, challenge your brain, improve memory, boost your mental fitness, and allow you to track your progress.
2. Mensa Brain Training
This app, created by the largest and oldest IQ society in the world, uses Mensa-approved exercises to help strengthen your recall, logic, perception, concentration, agility, and reasoning. You can also chart your progress over time. Fair warning: It might not help you get accepted to Mensa.
3. Congnifit Brain Fitness
This app, designed by neuroscientists, contains specific programs to “stimulate or rehabilitate” brain function in people with conditions like Parkinson’s, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. It can also help people that have suffered brain injuries. With the free version, you can get up to three games.
These fun, brain-stimulating mini-games are designed to give you short, intense workouts to improve memory, problem-solving, concentration, language and more. It’s also based on research from scientists at Cambridge and Yale. With the free version, you can complete four randomly assigned brain games every day.
5. Fits Brain Trainer
Fits Brain Trainer is a comprehensive brain trainer that works on both your cognitive and emotional intelligence. Its 35 games target the six major sectors of the brain – language, concentration, working memory, problem-solving, visual-spatial, and speed of thinking – as well as emotional intelligence in the four key areas of self-control, social awareness, self-awareness, and social skills.
Best Video Games For Training Your Brain
In this popular multi-player first-person shooter game, you are working as part of a diverse team of fighters, including soldiers, mercenaries, and scientists, to fight robots with artificial intelligence that have taken over the world. This exciting game helps to increase your decision-making skills, as well as strategic and tactical thinking, as you react to the ever-changing gameplay, including map layout, enemy position, and character abilities.
2. Brain Age 2
This collection has a huge number of games that are designed to help sharpen your concentration, memory, calculation, and other brain skills, making it a good all-rounder. As a bonus, you can also track your progress on a daily basis.
3. The Elder Scrolls
In this fantasy game, you are in the expansive landscape of Skyrim, which you can navigate on horseback or via a fast-travel system that warps you into previously unseen locations. Your objective is to develop your character so that they can cope with the quests ahead. Making decisions about weapons, armor, magic, and the like will help improve memory retention and tactical thinking.
4. Super Mario 64
The object of this game is for Mario to rescue Princess Peach and it’s your job to help him. You’ll need to explore her castle and the vast world it inhabits, as well as complete many separate missions along the way, to find her. According to researchers, this helped to increase grey matter related to spatial orientation, memory formation, strategic planning, and fine motor skills.
In this tile-matching puzzle, you manipulate slowly falling shapes to fill up a horizontal line and eventually clear the board. It’s fantastic for improving your spatial reasoning skills and problem-solving. Be warned: it’s addictive.
Best Board Or Card Game For Exercising The Brain
If you’re a bit of a technophobe, want to limit your screen time, or want to get the whole family involved, try a more traditional card and board games. You can find them online, in a local department store, or even second hand at jumble sales for less than you might expect. And although you can find them in the toy aisle, they’re definitely not just for kids.
In this classic game, you shake 16 letter-imprinted dice in their case and let them settle into a 4×4 grid. Then you start the three-minute timer, and it’s a race to see how many words you can find. (You’ll get points for any word not spotted by another player.) Great for language skills, pattern recognition, and thinking outside of the box.
Each player gets nine cards and has to locate a set of three features – color, number, shape or shading – that are all the same on each card or all different. Great for short-term memory and pattern recognition.
While this isn’t technically a board game and it certainly doesn’t have any cards, Simon is still a great brain game for adults. It’s an electronic disc with four colored buttons, which each play a note when pressed. The game plays a random sequence, and you have to copy it exactly and quickly. Great for short-term memory and pattern recognition.
4. Jigsaw Puzzles
Do you want to put together a picture of Mickey Mouse or the Great Pyramids at Giza? Great. Jigsaw puzzles are an awesome way to boost your spatial reasoning and pattern recognition skills.
Here, each player draws 21 lettered tiles and races to form sets of connecting and intersecting words. The winner is the first player to lay all their tiles down and shout “Bananas.” Great for language skills and spatial reasoning.
Best Paper-Based Brain Training Game
These are great for anyone who wants to take their brain training back to basics. While you can find apps or websites dedicated to these games, you’ll find dozens of books in the shops or even a puzzle inside your daily newspaper.
A jumble consists of several anagrams that must be decoded to form the clues to an answer phrase. In some cases, certain letters in the clues help form the answer. They’re often accompanied by an illustration that serves as an added clue. It boosts vocabulary, problem solving, and stretches the brain.
This number placement game involves putting the numbers 1-9 into a 9×9 grid comprising nine 3×3 sub-grids. Sounds simple enough but the golden rule is that the same number cannot appear twice in a sub-grid or line. It helps improve short-term memory and concentration. Plus, you can start with a simpler one and move onto more difficult ones.
3. Crossword Puzzles
These word puzzles use your verbal language skills as well as your memory. As with Sudoku, you can find easier puzzles and harder ones, but you can also choose one dedicated to a specific area of knowledge, like the Roman Empire or marine wildlife.
In a similar vein to Sudoku, KENKEN is about putting numbers into grids and columns without repeating them. The difference being that certain boxes are highlighted, and their digits are used to answer a mathematics question. Solving this puzzle improves working memory and math skills.
This word puzzle offers a short piece on encrypted text for you to decipher, like your very own version of the Rosetta Stone. The text, usually a quote or common phrase, has its letters substituted with another letter or number and you are given a key that reveals the correct value of a couple of letters, which should help you work out the rest. (Hint: Focus on letters that can appear on their own, like “I” and “A” and common letters, like “E” to begin with.) This game helps boost problem solving, memory, and IQ.
Best Free Brain Games For Adults
If you’re watching your bank balance or you like to try before you buy (smart move!), you’ll want to find an app or game for free. That’s where these brain games come in.
1. Memorado Brain Training
This incredible app features 24 brain training games and 720 levels. It combines brain training and mindfulness in order to improve memory, logic, concentration, reaction and math skills, as well as lower stress and restore mental balance. All you have to do is select the skills that you want to work on, and the app will generate a personalized daily workout.
2. Brain Metrix
Brain Metrix isn’t an app, but rather an educational website that provides several fun activities to exercise your brain. Options include a brain reflection test, Sudoku, and a brain-stretching game. Each one helps to improve your brain function differently from spatial intelligence to improved memory function to waking up the brain’s creativity center.
This app is designed to help improve the emotional well-being of people who may be suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression. You can pick from a range of 60 free ‘tracks,’ including building self-confidence, feeling your career success, and conquering negative thoughts, depending on what you want to improve. You even get a 20-page character strength report, based on your results, which suggests other tracks for you to try.
4. 4 Pics, 1 Word
Easily one of the most recognizable brain training apps, 4 Pics, 1 Word is a game that shows you four pictures, and you must choose the word that connects them. For instance, you might be shown pictures of a woman wrapped up in winter clothes, an ice cube, an ice cream cone, and an igloo with the common word being “cold.”
This professional-looking app will give you up to five entertaining and challenging games per day. It helps strengthen your focus, improve memory, boost reading comprehension and other cognitive skills, as well as build your communication and analytical abilities.
That’s it from us on puzzles, brain teasers, and games to help give your brain cells some exercise. Now it’s time for us to hear from you. Have you used any of these games? If so, what did you think? What brain games for adults are we missing from this list? And what other ways can we keep our cognitive function in tip-top shape? Let us know all that and more in the comments below.