A recent multi-center clinical trial of a commercial brain fitness program makes a case for why we should take brain games more seriously.
We just found a deceivingly simple test that only gives you ten seconds to find three hidden items. Hidden within this field of letter Q’s are exactly three letter O’s. this sounds easy enough, but trust us, it is harder than you think. And when you are racing a clock to ten seconds, it gets even harder. So give it a shot. (answer at the end of the article)
These kinds of tests and games do a lot to help mental function and improve our brain brawn.
Our memories improve to a point and then start to get weaker as we age. Puzzles both improve the connection between existing brain cells and create new connections that speed up your recollection and and improve your ability to make logical connections between stored memories. Jigsaw puzzles are especially good exercises for short term memory, for kids and adults alike because in order to solve them, you have to remember the size, shape, and color of each piece as well as the overall image you are trying to reconstruct.
Creativity is also helped by doing puzzles. Solving a good puzzle requires “out of the box” thinking. Even when initially incorrect, you gain experiential knowledge that will eventually led to success. This is the core of the scientific method, and by forming a theory and then testing it you merge imagination and deductive reasoning. All of which leads to greater problem solving and inventiveness in every field.
Many of us think of ourselves as “big picture people” or define ourselves in terms of “left” or “right” brained approaches to life. Puzzles encourage the player to use many different skills simultaneously, such as logic and creativity, and as these different sections of the brain work together, the brain is training itself to perform in an integrated, holistic manner. Thus, you become more able to see creative approaches to logical problems like math, and can apply deductive reasoning when engaged in creative endeavors.
Puzzles also affect the chemistry factory in the brain to produce neurotransmitters that enable communication within the brain and between it and the rest of your central nervous system. Foremost among these is the chemical Dopamine, which can improve concentration and focus, enhance motor skills, stronger memory, and can greatly improve your mood. Dopamine is released in various measures in response to little and big breakthroughs, the “aha’ moments that often accompany puzzle play. It is tied to reward driven learning, which means that every time your brain does something right, it gets more of the stuff. This is probably also why we keep dropping quarters into the slots, and check our inboxes, so it is probably important to tie the Dopamine production to useful endeavors.
So, how did you do? Did you find all three letter O’s within ten seconds? Still looking? Please share your results with us here.