Do Brain Games Actually Work? | Iris Reading
Do Brain Games Actually Work?

Do Brain Games Actually Work?

Do Brain Games Actually Work?

Brain games stimulate the brain. But there’s no consensus in the scientific community on whether this stimulation leads to improved cognitive functions in real-life situations. 

If you desire to improve your thinking skills, memory, and other cognitive functions, brain games might interest you.

Read on to find out if brain games work. 

In this post, we’ll explore:

  • What brain games are and how they work
  • Whether brain games improve cognitive function
  • Whether brain games improve memory
  • What works better than brain games in improving cognitive functions

How do brain games work?

Brain games are games that stimulate the brain. They involve doing a series of mental activities intended to keep the brain fit, in the same way that engaging in physical activities keeps the body fit.

Brain games include games like chess, sudoku, scrambles, and puzzles. And more recently, many video and app-based games for brain training have been developed.

Brain games can help cognition because of one of the most important processes of the brain – neuroplasticity. Brain plasticity (also known as neuroplasticity) is the ability of the brain to rewire itself so that it can adapt to changing demands.

Because of the brain’s plasticity, we get better at something by practicing. 

When you practice a skill, the connections in your brain change, and you get better at that skill.

So, when playing a brain game, you can become better at the particular brain functions that you’re practicing for the game. 

Do brain games improve cognitive function?

Some studies say that brain games are simple and convenient means to improve cognitive function. However, other studies say that the claims promoting brain games are often exaggerated and misleading

Brain games involve doing certain tasks targeted at improving cognitive abilities like attention, memory, reasoning, and problem-solving.

There’s no doubt that when playing a brain game, you’ll get better at the game. The question is whether that transfers to real-world situations.

That is, when doing a memory task in a brain game, you can get better at the task, and improve your score in the game. 

But will that lead to improvement in memory functions in real life?

As mentioned, the scientific community is divided. However, more and more studies show that playing brain-training games will improve motor speed and attention

Also, to affirm that brain games can benefit cognitive functioning, in mid-2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved using a brain game to treat children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Will brain games improve age-related cognitive decline?

One thing that reduces age-related cognitive decline is intellectual stimulation, and brain games are designed to stimulate the brain. So, brain games have the potential to reduce age-related cognitive decline. 

Older adults, in particular, can benefit from brain games. This is because many cognitive functions decline with age. These include reaction time, processing speed, short-term memory, and decision making.

Generally, brain games can help improve attention-related brain activity

Different research studies have shown that video-based brain games can help slow down cognitive decline. The novel experiences in these games can keep the brain sharp, while their three-dimensional environments make them enjoyable. 

Non-digital board games have also been shown to reduce cognitive decline by providing experiences that improve brain activity. 

Can brain games improve memory?

Memory is a cognitive skill. So, similar to the discussion about brain games and cognitive function, there is no consensus that brain games improve memory.

You’ll find studies stating that the memory tasks in certain brain games can lead to better short-term memory, reasoning, and attentiveness

However, you’ll also find studies stating that the improvement shown in the memory tasks of brain games does not transfer to real-world situations.

In fact, in 2016, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled against one of the most widely advertised brain games. The FTC fined the company $50 million (later reduced to $2 million) for deceptive advertising.

The advertising included the claim that the game could stave off memory loss. The FTC also pointed out that the brain game company had no scientific backing for its claims.

What works better than brain games?

There is no consensus among neuroscientists that brain games improve cognitive functions. However, there’s agreement that you can keep your mind fit by:

  • Exercising
  • Eating healthily
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Receiving expert guidance
  • Reading more

Let’s dive deeper into these!

1. Exercise

Exercising does not only keep the body fit, but it also keeps the brain fit.

The exercise that’s good for the brain is aerobic exercises – the kind that gets your heart pumping and your sweat glands working. It helps cognitive functions both directly and indirectly.

One direct benefit of aerobic exercises is that they release neurotrophic factors such as peripheral BDNF. These are chemicals that affect the health of brain cells.

Aerobic exercises indirectly help cognitive function by improving mood and reducing stress and anxiety. These conditions often cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

So, to keep your mind fit, start exercising. Do moderate-intensity exercises for at least 30 minutes a day.

Does this mean you should always hit the gym? 

There are many ways to get your heart pumping and your sweat glands working. You can try brisk walking, stairs climbing, or rope jumping.

2. Eat healthily 

Like other body parts, the brain needs a continuous supply of essential nutrients to function optimally. So, nutritious foods supply the brain with essential vitamins and antioxidants needed to optimize brain function and prevent cognitive decline.

For example, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in membranes of brain cells. It is important in promoting efficient electrical signaling between nerve cells and preventing cognitive deterioration. 

However, the human body is not efficient in synthesizing DHA. So, intake of DHA is important through eating food rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (like fish and nuts).

Generally, low glycemic index foods improve attention, memory, and functional ability. These include vegetables, fruits, legumes, dairy, and nuts. Vitamins B1, B6, B12, iron, and iodine have neuroprotective effects and improve intellectual performance.

Antioxidants are also important in preventing oxidative stress associated with mental deterioration. These include nutrients like zinc, selenium, zeaxanthin, vitamins C, E, and A. Include citrus fruits, sunflower oil, nuts, and seeds in your diet t get these nutrients.

3. Get enough sleep

For improved cognitive functions, get about 8 hours of sleep every night.

There’s a linear relationship between sleep and cognitive functioning. That is, more sleep will lead to better cognitive performance, and less sleep will lead to less cognitive performance.

Sleep can affect cognition because it affects attention, concentration, and memory. Good sleep fosters attention and concentration, which are important for learning.

Sleep also optimizes memory consolidation – transforming short-term memory to long-term memory. 

Memory functions are encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. It’ll be difficult to recall information without consolidating encoded information for problem-solving.

4. Get expert guidance

Receiving expert guidance is more effective than learning on your own. Whether you’re trying to learn a skill or improve cognitive functions like memory, having an expert to guide you flattens the learning curve.

Expert guidance comes in the form of special classes specially designed to improve one or more cognitive functions.

An example is the Iris Reading Maximizing Memory Course. In this course, you’ll learn different practical techniques that’ll help you memorize key information and remember them easily.

Specifically, you’ll learn how memory works. You’ll learn about obstacles to remembering what you read, and how to overcome them. You’ll also discover lifestyle changes that’ll help you improve your memory.

5. Read more

One of the best ways to give your brain a good workout is to read. Reading is a brain-stimulating activity that improves memory and slows down age-related cognitive decline.

Reading can affect cognitive functions because it strengthens the connections in the brain. The complex network of circuits and signals in the brain gets stronger and more sophisticated the more you read.

Reading also improves cognition by helping to reduce stress (which greatly affects cognitive functions). Just 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by two-thirds

Considering the brain-boosting effects of reading, you may want to read more. Iris Reading also has speed reading courses that’ll help you read more in less time. These include the Speed Reading Foundation Course and the Speed Reading Mastery Course

Final Thoughts

Brain games are increasingly becoming popular as convenient ways to improve cognitive functions. Sadly, there is no consensus. While many research works support claims that brain games improve cognitive function, others disagree.

However, there are ways of improving cognitive function that the scientific community agrees on. These include exercising, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, receiving expert guidance, and reading.

Are you thinking of improving cognitive functions like attention and memory? 

You may play brain games if you enjoy them. 

But combine them with methods that have strong scientific backing.

The Maximizing Memory Course has helped thousands (including students and professionals) to improve their memory. This and other courses provided by the industry-leading expert (Iris Reading) have been hosted by world-renowned universities like Berkeley, Stanford, and Harvard. Register for the memory course today.

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