From pen-and-paper Sudoku and crosswords to specialized brain training apps, options for brain games are plentiful. People of all ages use these games to improve mental power and prevent brain ageing.
Brain training may help improve your memory, response time, and logic skills, although research shows that the relationship between brain training games and improved cognitive function is complicated.1 If you’d like to give your brain a workout and have fun too, try these games and activities that may improve your mental focus and fitness.
Sudoku is a number placement game that relies on short-term memory. To complete a Sudoku puzzle, you have to look ahead and follow trails of consequences—if you put a 6 in this box, that one must be an 8 and this one a 4, and so on. This type of planning helps improve short term memory and concentration.
You can play Sudoku online, on an app, or on paper. Look for a regular Sudoku in your newspaper, buy a book with a collection of puzzles, or download a free app for your phone or tablet.
Sudoku puzzles are available in varying degrees of difficulty. When you’re starting out, play the easy games until you learn the rules. If you’re playing on paper, use a pencil
Lumosity is one of the most established brain training and mental fitness programs. You can sign up for a free account to play three games per day, or choose the subscription service for more offerings. Either way, you can keep track of your results and improvement.
Lumosity’s fun brain training and mental fitness games, tests, and activities are backed by science. You can play them on the website, or download the free apps for iOS and Android.
Crosswords are a classic brain trainer, accessing not only verbal language but memory from many dimensions of knowledge. There are many ways to do crossword puzzles, both online and off. If you receive a daily newspaper, you’ll almost always get a crossword there. Or pick up a book of crosswords specifically suited to your skill level and interests.
You will also find many options for crossword puzzles online or via free or inexpensive apps.
You’ll need to download an app to play Elevate 35 (and counting) different brain training games, which have a strongly educational feel. It’s free (with in-app purchases) and both iOS and Android versions have tens of thousands of five-star reviews.
Elevate’s games center on reading, writing, speaking, and math, and you can customize your training to focus on whichever areas you prefer. As with most other brain games, you can track your progress to see how your skills are improving.
Peak is another app-only option (available for iOS and Android) that provides brain games to help you work on focus, memory, problem-solving, mental agility, and more cognitive functions. If you’re a competitive person, you might be motivated by seeing how you perform against other users. The app is free to use, but an inexpensive subscription unlocks more features.
Happy Neuron divides its games and activities into five critical brain areas: memory, attention, language, executive functions, and visual/spatial. Like Lumosity, it personalizes the training to fit you, tracks your progress, and the games are based on scientific research.
Claiming to have the world’s largest collection of brain teasers, Briangles’ free website provides more than 15,000 puzzles, games, and other brain teasers as well as an online community of enthusiasts. You can even create your own puzzles to give your brain a super workout. Briangle has a wide variety of offerings, including optical illusions, codes and ciphers, and trivia quizzes.
Queendom has thousands of personality tests and surveys. It also has an extensive collection of “brain tools including logic, verbal, spatial, and math puzzles; trivia quizzes; and aptitude tests for you to exercise and test your brain. If you’d like to save results and scores, you’ll need a free account. Some tests give you only snapshot results for free, and charge a fee for full reports.
Brain Age Concentration Training
Brain age concentration training is a brain training and mental fitness system for the Nintendo 3DS system. It includes a huge number of games to hone your concentration, memory, calculation, and other brain skills. It’s fun, portable, and challenging. Brain Age is also available for the Nintendo Wii U, but not for the Switch, Nintendo’s most up-to-date gaming system.
Certain types of video games can help to train the brain to become more agile and improve strategic thinking, according to scientists from Queen Mary University of London and University College London (UCL).
Creative problem solving and ‘thinking outside the box’ require cognitive flexibility. Perhaps in contrast to the repetitive nature of work in past centuries, the modern knowledge economy places a premium on cognitive flexibility.