Brain-Training-1“Use it or lose it”. It’s a phrase we’ve all heard, and dismissed as just a cliché. But is it just a cliché when it comes to brain power? Some scientists and educators don’t think so.

Brain training games have exploded in popularity in the last few years. There are dozens of websites that offer brain training games, many for free. Many more games are available for handheld devices. Nintendo, for instance, offers Brain Age, a brain training game created for the wildly popular Nintendo DS system.

While the games may differ, what they all have in common is that they use simple exercises to stimulate the brain. Brain training games attempt to improve the player’s skills in many areas, such as focus, spatial reasoning, and reaction times, to name a few. Employers have begun offering them to employees, theorizing that a quick mental break to play a game that tests reaction time or strategy skills will result in more mentally engaged, productive workers while lowering stress levels.

Children have played card games like Memory for years, but with the advent of handheld electronic games, now they can play memory-training and problem solving games wherever they go. Games like Brain Age and Brain Fitness Pro Jr. can help them stretch their mental muscles and even attempt to increase their attention span, while having fun at the same time. Aptitude tests have shown that it may even help with issues such as attention difficulties.

Seniors can benefit from brain training, too! Whether with an electronic game, or paper and pencil puzzles like Sudoku and crosswords, scientists have found a consistent link between brain exercise and mental acuity. It may not be able to ward off aging, but, as physical exercise keeps the body moving, mental exercise keeps the brain moving, and may even help form more mental “muscles”. What a wonderful way to have fun and improve yourself at the same time!