Sep 132009
 

Some online games to exercise your brain are better than others; these tips will help you find the right brain games to improve your memory and thinking skills….

“There is a lot of talk these days about using brain games to train your mind,” says brain fitness aficionado Alex Colket, creator of PlayWithYourMind.com. “Every month, another study touts the efficacy of brain training and further emphasizes the importance of brain fitness. With this research comes an ever-growing number of brain fitness programs; now, there are thousands of so-called ‘brain games’ available on the internet.”

But not all brain games are equal! Here are Colket’s tips for finding the right brain games and brain exercises.

How to Find the Right Brain Games and Brain Exercises

Is brain training as simple as choosing brain games, playing for a few hours, and then conquering the world with your new-found brilliance? Most likely, no. Rather, there are several important factors that you should consider before thinking about brain fitness tips. The games you choose and the way you play them can determine how much you benefit from your brain exercises.

Tips for Choosing the Right Brain Games 

1. Find a good “brain exercise” website. Your best bet is to find a website dedicated to games for brain training and brain fitness, as opposed to just playing the ‘brain games’ on larger gaming sites.  In most cases, the websites dedicated to brain exercise are designed more intelligently, and are better suited to challenge you in constructive ways.  Look for evidence that the game designers know something neuroscience.

2. Do something different. It’s often more fun to play games that display your competence rather than expose your ineptitude, but just playing towards your strengths is not as beneficial as improving on your weaknesses. Brain games are a great tool to challenge yourself in ways that your everyday life does not – especially if you try new ways to improve your memory and thinking skills.

3. Find a brain exercise you enjoy. One condition for effective neuroplasticity (the process responsible for making changes in your brain) is attention.  If you are playing something that is not engaging you and holding your attention, you’re far less likely to get something from it.

Brain Games to Improve Memory, Thinking, and Brain Health will help you find cognitive exercises you enjoy.

4. Make sure the brain game gets harder as you improve. Find a game that has adjustable difficulties or progressively gets harder as you improve your memory and thinking skills.  It is important that the level of challenge increases proportionately to your skill level, so you’re not wasting your time playing a game that is too easy or too hard.

When You Play Brain Games…

1. Opt for regular short practice rather than prolonged sessions. You are going to get a lot more out of your work if you play a game for 15 minutes a day for a week than if you sit down and play it for two hours at once. Taking breaks and returning to the activity later helps facilitate the learning process, improves your memory, and makes certain your mind stays sharp and attentive throughout the process.

2. When possible, combine brain exercise with physical exercise. Schedule your brain training sessions after physical exercise, so your brain has plenty of blood and energy.  You’ll glean more from the brain games when your mind is alert and ready to learn.

3. Find ways to stay motivated. If there is a storyline or reward system for measuring your progress, get involved in it.  The more motivated you are to learn and make changes, the easier it’ll be to improve your memory and thinking skills. It’s definitely OK to have fun with your brain exercise!

Don’t forget that the foods you eat have a direct effect on your brain. Read What Are the Best Brain Vitamins? 10 Brain Improvement Tips.

If you have any thoughts on Colket’s brain games and brain exercises, please comment below…Colket also contributed How to Improve Your Memory and Concentration, here on Quips & Tips for Achieving Your Goals.

Alex Colket is an amateur neuroscientist, professional game developer, and brain fitness junkie. Visit Play With Your Mind to check out his 100+ brain fitness games, or track him on twitter to follow his musings on neuroplasticity, sustainability and cognitive health.

  10 Responses to “How to Find the Right Brain Games and Brain Exercises”

  1. I’m exploring Salzburg, Innsbruck, and Prague right now, and am finding that wandering through these cities is great exercise for your brain! Keeping track of where you’ve been and where you’re going with visual and even auditory cues can really boost those neurons. Maps are good brain exercise, too.

    So, I’d add travel to this list of brain games :-)

  2. Thanks for the tips in choosing an effective brain game. As there are innumerable brain games available it is most important to choose one that will really boost our memory power.

  3. Thanks for your extra brain tips, Alex! Very helpful.

    Jonty, I appreciate your advice on overstimulating your brain…I hadn’t thought about that, that brain exercises are similar to muscular exercises. I know muscles need a break from training, and didn’t realize your brain needs a break, too. Interesting.

  4. The nature of the brain is similar body muscles in many ways. If it is stimulated and made to work, it gets stronger and if it is not used it gets weaker. However care should be taken to not over stimulate it. Just as over training a muscle leads to injuries, stimulating the brain beyond its capacity might impair its strength.

  5. @Ventego

    Remember, brain training is a learning process, and as is the case with any such process, it takes time and effort. In all likelihood, you will not notice any immediate changes, but if you keep up with your exercise and training you should experience measurable improvements in your cognition. Where these improvements take place and how they manifest themselves will depend on what sort of exercises you are doing and how much you are doing them… and even then there will be considerable variation from person to person as each of our minds is unique.

    But yes, if you pick some memory exercises aimed at improving your memory for names and dates, and stick to them, in time you should definitely notice improvement in that area, and possibly in other aspects of memory as well.

  6. Good question, Ventego.

    Yes, I think you know that the brain exercises or brain games are working if you find that your memory and concentration have improved. Also, if you can think with more clarity — faster cognitive processing — then I think you know that the brain exercises are working.

    Also, if you find yourself learning new things faster and easier, then the brain games might be effective.

    I also suggest taking omega-3 fatty acids and essential oils to improve brain health. I wrote about them in an article — here’s the link:

    The Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oils

    Best wishes,
    Laurie

  7. Hello,

    This was an interesting article, I like the idea of thinking about the best ways to play brain games, not just to play them.

    I have a question. How do you know if your brain exercises actually work? Do you remember things better, like names and dates? I have no way to measure if the brain games are effective.

    V.

  8. Well said. Anyone looking for a brain fitness product will soon find that choosing an affordable but effective product can be quite a challenge. (Since the brain fitness industry is relatively young the cost of a product does not necessarily indicate its quality.)

    In terms of effectiveness, a study last year on Improving Fluid Intelligence by Training Working Memory (PNAS April 2008) recorded increases in mental agility (fluid intelligence) of more than 40% after 19 days of focused brain training — thirty minutes per day. I was so impressed that I contacted the research team and developed a software program using the same method — Mind Sparke Brain Fitness.

    Brain Fitness Pro has since been selected as a Top Ten gift pick by PC Mag and has been chosen by top brain gym vibrantBrains as an addition to their lineup.

    Martin
    mindsparke.com
    Effective, Affordable Brain Training Software

  9. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, brain games would be wonderful gifts for teens…..and fun, too!

  10. Now this would be great for teenagers and a good alternative to video games.