Certain games are not as bad for your brain as you thought – in fact, some can even make you smarter! The trick is to play the right ones.
Did you know your brain retains elasticity into your 90s? That means you never stop growing and changing throughout your life. So there’s no excuse to stop learning, right? With all the data suggesting that our sedentary, technology-driven lives may be bad for our health, it turns out it’s not all bad news.
Video games were once thought to lower our concentration levels, desensitize us to violence, and even cause ADD and ADHD. But new research suggests the opposite.
Even action adventure games have been shown to help develop reflexes, increase your ability to multitask and problem solve, thus making you smarter! Moreover, they can actually treat attention deficit disorders by providing a significant distraction.
Add to that the popularity of brain training and brain-health apps designed to help you play your way through anxiety, or to make you smarter has meant that video games are healthier than ever before.
Video Games To Treat Mental Health Issues
ADHD leads to sensory overload issues and difficulty concentrating. It can also affect your memory and impact your brain’s ability to process new information.
Previous data suggested that video games may lead to sensory overload and even cause addiction that distracts from study and home life. But new research in psychology actually suggests the exact opposite.
While playing video games, children and adults with ADD, ADHD, and even OCD are learning to recognize patterns, and freeing up mental energy to focus on current problems, skills that are useful when coping with the overload of information that these conditions often generate.
Video Games To Treat Mood Disorders
Cognitive behavioral therapy has taken to new avenues to help people with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. By using reward systems found in video games, clinical psychiatrists have found it easier and less stressful to train the brain toward positive outcomes, including more positive thinking.
But any low-impact, low-stress game can help distract you from stress, depression, and anxiety, which can severely impair cognitive function.
Game-based meditation apps and even RPG goal-setting apps can help you lower your stress levels and improve your life, but casual gaming of all types have shown positive impacts on your overall mood, especially serving to distract you from negative thought patterns which can be habitual as they are toxic.
Video Games To Get You Smarter
The world is full of memory games, word games, and logic puzzles that will literally make you smarter! They’re a great way to train your brain, and teach you new skills. Or are they?
The truth is, so far, there is no conclusive data that the brain training apps are actually making you smarter. Or, not in the way you think they are. Studies have shown that games, whether they’re for brain training or not, can help you recognize patterns, develop multitasking skills, and even increase verbal skills.
15 minutes a day with a video game, brain training or otherwise has also been shown to improve concentration. There are doubts as to whether that has to lead to real, transferable neuroplasticity: That is, whether being really good at a memory or match game really will help you recognize patterns in your day to day life.
But as we learn more about neuroplasticity and the way our brains create pathways to increase our learning capabilities, it is becoming more and more likely that the more you use a skill, the more your mind will know where to find that skillset when you need it.
1. Brain Bashers
BrainBashers is an online resource full of number puzzles, mazes, and logic puzzles. They’ve got a daily problem to solve, Sudoku games, and mazes. All kinds of fantastic brain training exercises that keep you thinking, no matter your preference.
Neuronation games are similar to those found on Luminosity. It can help with memory, mental math, and special reasoning. NeuroNation is also paid for by the federal ministry of education and research, and the federal ministry of health.
Their impact on your brain is backed by scientific study.
Lumosity is a top app and website that has proven results in memory retention, pattern recognition, and lots more! It recommends 15 minutes of daily brain exercise. If you seek to become smarter, you can use Lumosity’s mini-games designed to encourage brain elasticity and help with short term memory and pattern recognition, which reportedly boosts brain activity.
4. Personal Zen
Stress has a huge impact on your cognitive function. Your short term memory gets even shorter under the influence of the cortisol that builds up in times of stress. Just like your concentration. And the more stressed you are, the more likely your judgment is compromised.
Personal Zen is a fun, distracting game that’s been scientifically tailored to help you manage anxiety.
5. CogniFit Brain Fitness
Like Neuronation and Lumosity, Cognifit uses brain science to improve perception, concertation, coordination, and memory. It’s full of great games like jigsaw puzzles and mah-jong, as well as the number and word games. There are even some sport-style games to improve co-ordination!
Elevate works a little differently than Lumosity. Every game is played by writing or speaking, so your brain is more active, and your games are more engaging. The exciting graphics add to the engagement and help you stay invested in your scores and times.
Elevate works with the same principle as other brain-training apps, but is a lot less low impact, for someone looking for something more exciting!
Happify looks like a program similar to Cognifit, Luminosity, and others. But instead of encouraging brain elasticity, the principles of Happify are all about positive thinking! Once you’ve filled out your profile, Happify suggests tracks for you to follow to beat negative thinking, lower stress, and even help you meditate.
These calming games are sure to have a positive effect on your brain, and your life!
8. Online Solitaire
Bet you didn’t know that solitaire could be good for the brain, did you? Online solitaire brain games, including spider, are great for pattern recognition and good for strategy. Studies show these simple games can even help you deal with stress and problem-solving in your day to day life.
Wordstacks is part scrabble, part spatial reasoning game, part logic puzzle. Using one-word categories, you uncover the words hidden in the blocks. The trick is? You can only move in one direction at a time. A game of strategy and wordplay that will keep your brain limber.
Eidetic memory is the ability to totally recall an image in complete detail. Also known as photographic memory, this fantastic game is designed to encourage this kind of detail memory, using abstract imagery. All while playing a fun, face-paced game.
The further you get, the more you earn towards artifacts and powerups to help you go even further.
Duolingo is a top language learning app that teaches using the same techniques you’d learn when learning languages as a child. It’s a great tool to learn a new language, but it’s also a lot of fun! Duolingo works on a points system, that pits you against other users.
The more you learn, the more points you get per week. Every week, you get your points to tell you how you’re doing. There are badges to earn, and a thriving community to join to practice your new language, and compete for a top spot!
12. TinyCards by Duolingo
TinyCards was created by Duolingo to offer flashcard training with their language courses. Using the Duolingo technique of spaced repetition, you can play flashcard games that help you remember and retain everything from Duo’s own language courses to user-created courses on anatomy, world capitals, even animal tracking!
According to Braingle, it has the best trivia, puzzles and “mentalrobics” games found online. The puzzle stories are my favorite part, but there are also great brain teasers and optical illusions to be seen on the site. It’s a great way to pass the time, without resorting to mindless scrolling
14. Mahjongg Solitaire
Mahjongg helps with spatial reasoning and makes a great logic puzzle. It’s also a lot of fun. Mahjongg Solitaire offers many layouts and even options for customization. As your points go up, the challenges get bigger and more exciting as you unlock new layouts and destinations. It’s a fun and exciting way to get in your daily brain training!
15. NYT Crossword App
With all the great wordplay games found online, there’s still nothing more effective for making you smarter than a good old crossword. Crosswords improve vocabulary, logic, and verbal skills. And nothing is more rewarding than cracking the New York Times crossword every week. If you’re not much for the newspaper, check out the crosswords on this app.
Your brain is continually evolving and growing. In the early days of neuroscience, we believed that the brain naturally stopped developing past a certain point and that these growth points were critical to our development. Now, we understand that the brain never stops taking in new information.
Brain teasers, like the daily crossword, learning a new language, or practicing memory games have been proven to increase brain health and strengthen memory to ward off dementia, and help with mental health and learning disabilities.
These games make it fun and easy to get smarter, enhance your brain functions and learn new skills.
Author Bio: Kyle Ford – extrovert-introvert gamer geek, founder of https://hddmag.com/, an outlet for his gadget addiction. When he’s not loading up on gallons of chai tea and bulletproof coffee, he tries to run marathons.