The Truth Behind Brain Games: Do They Really Work?

Brain games, where you challenge yourself to get a high score by relying on skills like memory, attention, logic and quick thinking, have been around for years. But while they are often marketed as being the key to staying sharp as you age and there is some promising research out there, experts are torn about how well brain games really work.

Recently, however, new research came out that showed one kind of brain training could help reduce the risk of dementia. The study showed that working on something called “speed of processing” can decrease one’s risk of dementia by almost 30 percent. In the study, participants played a game where they had to quickly identify objects as they flashed up on a screen. The objects would flash faster and faster (and look more and more similar to each other) as the game went on.

While the results are exciting, brain games continue to be one of the less-proven ways to improve your cognitive ability. If you find them fun and don’t mind spending money on them, they don’t do any damage. Looking for something a little more tried-and-true? Try these lifestyle changes.

  1. Add “superfoods” to your diet: Incorporating foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients, like blueberries, avocados, wild salmon and nuts, into your snacks and meals can help maintain healthy brain function. What else works? Eat less saturated fat, red meat and sodium.
  2. Continue exercising: In addition to the other benefits it has on your body, aerobic exercise that gets the heart pumping is good for your memory too!
  3. Get to bed early: Getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night gives your brain time to store new memories – helping you retain and recall information better.
  4. Embrace your busy schedule: Research has shown that individuals with busier lives tend to have better mental function. If you have some down time, make plans to see a friend or volunteer.

If you’re concerned about your risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater Michigan Chapter.

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