Whether you’re a student who wants to learn how to do better on tests or an older adult who likes to find ways to sharpen your mind, games can serve as a powerful tool to boost memory. Not all games are created equal though. While you may turn to certain games to de-stress or relax, those games may not be the best for memory boosting.
Here are six different games that you can play to help boost your memory and brain power.
Texas Hold ‘Em
Poker games, in general, can be great tools to boost your mental acuity, but Texas Hold ‘Em is one of the best. Because of the skill and strategy involved in playing any poker game, your short term and long term memory both become engaged. When playing poker you not only utilize different parts of your brain for the strategic part of the game, but you also stimulate areas that your brain that benefit from social interaction.
Sudoku relies on what is known as “working memory” as you try to place numbers in gridded patterns horizontally, vertically, and within the block that you’re working. Researchers say when you’re first learning the game you get the most brain boost from it, as it will become less challenging over time. The trick is to start with a simpler, beginner puzzle then work your way up to more challenging puzzles to keep the mental juices flowing.
Considered the staple of brain-boosting games, crossword puzzles continue to reign as the winner in this category. One caveat though – be sure you’re doing puzzles that are truly challenging you. If you find you’re getting through crossword puzzles quickly, it’s likely that it’s not challenging enough and will not be helpful.
Chess has long been known as a game for intellectuals. Relying on both short-term and long-term memory, as well as strategy, it’s a great workout for your brain. Research has shown that it helps to develop logical thinking, abstract reasoning, and spatial intelligence, as well as patience and self-discipline. Chess works both the right and left hemispheres of the brain and improves memory, both when playing the game and in everyday life.
Jigsaw puzzles rely on memory and visualization to try to place pieces together to form a larger picture. They rely on both hemispheres of the brain for these tasks. Some research reports that people that regularly do jigsaw puzzles, combined with a healthy amount of physical activity can add years to their life and help stave off diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many people report an increased sense of relaxation when doing jigsaw puzzles, so they’re also great for stress relief.
Certain computer or video games can also help with memory boosting. “New research suggests that games with a little more problem solving and a few more spatially complex tasks may help train the brain’s hippocampus for things like remembering lost keys and recalling new names,” says Hilary Brueck with Fortune.com. Pick your video games wisely, and they can be a big brain boost.
Finding a hobby to do, like any of the games listed here can help improve your memory and lead you to live a longer more fulfilling life.