These Doctor-Approved Brain Games Will Sharpen Your Memory
It's common to exercise at the gym or set aside time for a quick workout at home each day, but scheduling regular sessions to exercise your brain should be a crucial part of your routine, too. "Cognitive exercise is important for maintaining good cognitive functioning throughout your lifespan, and it may help prevent or slow any current or further decline," says Dr. Hayley Kristinsson, a neuropsychologist at UCI Health's Department of Neurology.
But what does cognitive exercise look like, exactly? It typically involves any activity that requires memory, visual and spatial skills, executive functions, attention, or language—and brain games offer some of the most fun ways to work these muscles. Beyond providing genuine enjoyment, though, these games are effective. Dr. Gerardo Zavala, II, a neurosurgeon at Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants, says, "The importance of brain games in general is to keep our minds sharp, active, stimulated, and challenged on a daily basis."
Researchers are still learning exactly how brain games affect cognition, and Dr. Kristinsson says that research is mixed regarding their ability to prevent neurological disorders like dementia. But we do know that they stimulate the brain to work in new ways, which is key for a healthy mind, Dr. Kristinsson explains. Plus, they're interesting and amusing. "Utilizing our brains to solve problems is part of being a human being and we should take advantage of the gift of being able to do so each and every day," Dr. Zavala says. To help you do just that, we asked neurology experts for their favorite brain games and rounded them up below.