Do Brain Games Make You Smarter?

Do Brain Games Make You Smarter And Increase Intelligence?

Over the years, there has been a surge in the use of brain training apps and games; Lumosity for example is one such company that promises to improve cognitive functions like memory, attention, and problem-solving among others. 

These programs often claim that doing these exercises will make you sharper and more intelligent thus making it easier for you to do your daily tasks as well as improve mental acuity. This industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar business boasting millions of subscribers.

Do Brain Games Make You Smarter
Do Brain Games Make You Smarter

The Scientific Debate: Does Brain Training Deliver?

Despite all this noise, however, many scientists are still unsure of how effective brain training can be for improving general cognitive abilities. 

A 2014 statement by the Stanford University Center on Longevity and Berlin Max Planck Institute signed by seventy eminent cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists refutes the claims made by brain-training companies. 

According to this statement, there is no concrete scientific proof supporting the idea that software-based “brain games” can alter neural mechanisms leading to an increased overall mental performance lowering cognitive decline, or preventing certain forms of dementia.

Conflicting Research Findings

Research on the efficacy of brain training programs has yielded conflicting results. While some studies have reported positive outcomes, others have found no significant improvements in cognitive abilities after engaging in brain training exercises.

One notable study, published in 2019 in The Journals of Gerontology, found that adults who followed a 10-week computerized brain training program demonstrated faster information processing and better working memory compared to those who played traditional computer games. 

However, a 2020 study published in International Psychogeriatrics found no improvements in thinking or memory in older adults who participated in computerized cognitive training programs.

The Challenges of Research

The methodological challenges associated with conducting studies on brain training programs could be one of the reasons behind this contradiction. 

In addition, many surveys have failed to adhere to the best research practices which can for instance involve controlling for confounding variables that may lead to different results. 

Moreover, these days, researchers are awash with cognitive tests and other tools that go deeper into measuring human intelligence.

Smart Phone with Applications
Smart Phone with Applications

Potential Negative Effects of Screen-Based Activities

Although there is no general agreement concerning the cognitive advantage of brain training programs, some investigations have implicated certain screen-based activities as leading to negative effects.

For example, frequent use of social media can increase the risk of memory problems later in life due to scrolling’s effect on mood and emotions.

Strategies for Maintaining Brain Health

As to whether or not brain training programs are effective remains unclear; however, there are ways that one can ensure their brain health is maintained. According to neurologist Dr. Andrew Budson, the following should be prioritized:

Eat a Healthy Diet

Improving the quality of your diet can have a significant impact on brain health. The Mediterranean-style diet which is full of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins has been widely recommended for its cognitive benefits.

This eating plan has low amounts of processed and sugary foods that promote inflammation and cognitive decline. By incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, your brain gets all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to function optimally.

Ditch Bad Habits

Over time certain behaviors will damage cognition. The destruction caused by illegal drugs, excessive alcohol use, and inadequate sleep on the other hand cannot be ignored if someone wants to maintain a good functioning brain at old age. Substance dependence may cause damage to neurons in the brain leading to impaired ability to make decisions as well as loss of memory.

Similarly, chronic sleep deprivation also leads to cognitive impairments like poor memory, difficulty concentrating, and lack of problem-solving abilities. Prioritizing quality sleep and avoiding harmful substances can help protect and preserve cognitive function.

Socialize and Maintain Strong Social Ties

It is important to socialize and maintain strong social ties. It has been found through research that those who have strong social networks and engage in regular sociable activities undergo less cognitive decline as they get older.

Socializing helps to stimulate the mind, offer emotional support, and give an individual a sense of purpose which altogether improves one’s brain function. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that not all social transactions are good for you and negative or stressful relationships may impair cognition.

Engage with Music

Music listening or playing an instrument can vastly influence brain functions. Moreover, music engages several regions of the brain including language, rhythm, and memory areas.

In addition, music can change moods leading to decreased stress levels, anxiety, and depression all of which result in poor cognitive performance. Combining music with physical activities like dancing and social interactions can provide an even more potent brain benefit.

Practice Mindfulness

To avoid a wave of harmful stress that spoils the brain and enhances concentration, mindfulness practices like meditation and focused breathing exercises can be used. 

The practice of mindfulness for some minutes daily can help your mind learn how to remain in the present moment and not wander away, this has many benefits including better memory retention, making more sound decisions, and improved problem-solving skills. 

Mindfulness also assists individuals to develop a positive mindset which is associated with better brain health.

Cultivate a Positive Mindset

Being optimistic about getting old or anything else in life can promote youthful cognitive functions. Studies have shown that people who hold positive attitudes towards aging tend to experience less memory loss as compared to those with negative views.

Positive thinking helps in lowering stress levels, increasing resilience, and promoting general well-being hence mitigating brain health in the future.

In order to be able to maintain or even improve cognitive function you need these strategies included in your lifestyle. Remember that a holistic approach targeting physical, mental social well-being is necessary for optimal brain health.

Learn New Skills

Carrying out tasks that exercise your brain and allow you to develop new skills can be very important for enhancing your mental abilities. For instance, learning a foreign language, playing a musical instrument, or acquiring knowledge in a new field of interest can trigger the generation of new neural connections within the brain hence promoting its cognitive ability.

Learning something new forces our brain into overdrive by creating more pathways and reinforcing existing ones. This neuroplasticity concept keeps your brain active and flexible in response to change which could potentially retard age-related decrease in cognition.

Exercise Regularly

Regular physical exercise has been consistently shown to improve memory, focus, attention span, and other faculties of thought. Aerobic exercises have especially been found to be beneficial for the mind when it comes to direct impact on the human brain.

Activity brings more blood that carries oxygen into the head faster than before so much as to supply the energy necessary for developing new cells and making fresh synapses. It also helps release neurotransmitters like acetylcholine as well as growth factors critical for the proper functioning of the brain.


While brain training applications and games could lead to better performance in specific tasks, there is no current evidence that such programs can improve cognitive skills or real-world abilities in a meaningful way. Physical exercise, new learning experiences, and a healthy lifestyle are more promising strategies for keeping the mind sharp than relying exclusively on brain games.

In case you like playing brain training apps as a pastime, feel free to use them up to some extent. Nevertheless, expect nothing out of them and do not consider them a key thing that should worry you about your brain health. As per Dr. Budson’s advice, think of it as a hobby – something fun you do – rather than something critically important for your brain.

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