Want To Protect Your Brain As You Age? Play These Brain Games, New Study Says
As we get older, the unfortunate reality is that our mental faculties tend to decline. The good news, however, is we're learning more and more about how to preserve and even improve cognition as we age. And according to new research published in the journal Heliyon1, one simple way you can do so starts with simple brain games. Here's what they found.
Studying the power of brain games
For this study, researchers wanted to assess the impact brain games can have on older adults, namely looking at different types of games and how those games influenced memory and concentration.
The study included both older and younger adults and involved participants playing various digital games they would normally play in real life. As such, a wide array of games were tested, and participants also completed digital experiments that involved memorizing images while they were distracted.
And based on the findings, it would appear that digital puzzle games reign supreme when it comes to improving memory and concentration. Namely, adults 60 and up who played digital puzzle games were better at ignoring irrelevant distractions and had better memory in the assessments than adults playing digital strategy games.
As study co-author Joe Cutting, Ph.D., explains in a news release, "Puzzle games for older people had this surprising ability to support mental capabilities to the extent that memory and concentration levels were the same as a 20-year-olds who had not played puzzle games."
What to do about it
Following this study, the researchers now say that future studies should look at why different games have different effects, especially as we age. As study co-author Fiona McNab, Ph.D., notes, "It seems to be the strategy elements of the games—planning and problem solving, for example—that stimulates better memory and attention in young people. We don't see this same effect in older adults, however, and more research is needed to understand why this is."
But in the meantime, brain games (namely puzzle games as opposed to strategy or action games) could be an advantageous hobby to pick up for older populations.
You might also want to check out our guide to brain exercises for more brain game inspo!
Our brains are going to change as we get older—there's no doubt about that. But as we learn more about how to protect and preserve brain health as we age, the good news is, incorporating a fun digital puzzle game into your routine can help hone your memory and concentration, no matter how old you are.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.