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5 Games to Sharpen the Mind

17 Feb 2016
| Under Lung Disease, Mental Health | Posted by
5 Games to Sharpen the Mind

5 Games to Sharpen the Mind

As we get older, it may take a bit more effort to remember things than in our younger days. It seems to be usually the short-term type of memory that slips most—where we put our car keys, what that person’s name was at the dinner party last night, and that sort of thing. There are ways to fight back. One effective method of exercising memory is by playing certain games. Here are 5 Games to Sharpen the Mind.



Researchers at the University of Calgary have discovered that competitive Scrabble players can increase visual word recognition—that’s the ability to read individual words—well into adulthood.

The author of the study, Ian Hargreaves, a graduate student from the University of Calgary, writes, “Our study helps shine some light on how even in adulthood, visual word recognition is flexible, and can be modified with dedicated training. I think that it’s safe to say that there is plenty of evidence showing that exercising yourself, whether physically or mentally, can carry positive benefits.”


To get the most benefit from a physical workout, we must exercise both the left and right sides of the body. Studies show that in order to play chess well, a player must develop and use the brain’s left hemisphere, which deals with object recognition, as well as right hemisphere, which deals with pattern recognition. Over time, thanks to the rules and technique involved in the game, playing chess will effectively exercise and develop both sides of your brain.

Crossword Puzzles


Crossword puzzles sharpen short and long-term memory. Puzzles in general are great for keeping the brain sharp as we age. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends developing a crossword habit to help stave off dementia.



Sudoku, contrary to what most people think when they first see it, is not a math game. It consists of a nine-by-nine grid divided into smaller grids of three squares by three squares. The player must ‘plug in’ a number from one to nine in each of the single boxes. However, no row of nine squares can contain the same number more than once, and neither can each three-by-three grid.

Sudoku causes the brain simultaneously use reason and logic, and the more we exercise with the two, the better our brains function.


Mahjong also stimulates both hemispheres of the brain. Memory, logic, and pattern identification are core components of the game. Mahjong is played with tiles and can be played in solitaire form, or as a long game with multiple players.

Mahjong has been found to preserve function and delay decline in elderly individuals with dementia, even in those with significant cognitive impairment. If it’s good for the prevention of age-related decline, it stands to reason that mahjong is good brain training for younger people as well.

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