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What are Cognitive Games?

Cognitive games are interactive puzzles that challenge the brain, enhancing mental agility and problem-solving skills. They're designed to be fun yet stimulating, often incorporating vibrant visuals to engage players of all ages. From memory matching to complex strategy games, they offer a workout for the mind. Ready to sharpen your wits and boost your brainpower? Explore the world of cognitive games with us.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Cognitive games are games and exercises which are designed to help people improve cognition. These games can be used in many different settings. Children are sometimes exposed to cognitive games to stimulate learning and to prepare them for the classroom environment, for example, while such games may be used with victims of stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological events to aid recovery. Some people also just enjoy cognitive games as a recreational activity which can also be beneficial to the mind.

These games are very diverse in nature. Cognition, the process of thinking, requires activity in various regions of the brain as the brain responds to stimuli and processes information. Cognitive games are supposed to do things like improving reflexes, helping people learn, promoting critical thinking, and helping people with pattern associations. A cognitive game can also be used to help someone learn a foreign language, memorize materials, or perform other learning-related activities.

Cognitive games can help people with brain injuries.
Cognitive games can help people with brain injuries.

Whether or not cognitive games are truly beneficial is a matter of debate. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle; not all games labeled as “cognitive games” really stimulate cognition, but cognitive games are not entirely useless, either. Working with some games does appear to improve cognition in some studies, and some studies also suggest that different people respond differently. A game heavy on visual stimuli, for example, might improve cognition in one person and do nothing for another.

Playing dominoes may help improve memory.
Playing dominoes may help improve memory.

Examples of cognitive games include computer games, exercises on computers, flash cards, board games, physical puzzles, and some physical activities. One advantage of cognitive games is that they can be tailored to an individual, which can be especially important when they are used in a therapeutic setting. A stroke victim with impaired vision, for example, might benefit from games and activities directed by a therapist which stimulate the other senses, while a young child who does not enjoy sitting still might like physical activities like puzzles, which can also improve fine motor skills in addition to activating areas of the brain involved in problem solving.

Most computer games would be considered cognitive games.
Most computer games would be considered cognitive games.

Claims made on the packaging of cognitive games are fairly unreliable. Professionals such as neurologists and developmental psychologists may have recommendations for particular games which they think are beneficial. These games can include activities which don't require any purchases of products, such as making up mnemonics at home with a young child to help the child learn and process material learned in the classroom.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

rjh

@roser - I definitely think sudoku counts. I play it all the time as well, you might say I'm addicted! Thankfully it's one of the rare addictions that is actually healthy. Sudoku requires you to use concentration, logic and common sense so it kind of gives you a cognitive workout, you might say. The best thing is that it’s accessible anywhere; you can play it on your phone or in the newspaper or on the Internet.

I guess you could make a comparison to physical exercise; just like physical exercise keeps you physically healthy and prevents muscle loss, mental exercise like sodoku keeps brain cells from dying and promotes better brain function.

roser

Does sudoku count as a cognitive game? I play it on my phone all the time and I think it improves my memory and helps to keep my brain sharp. It’s so easy to zone out and forget what you’re meant to be doing but I think practicing sodoku really helps me focus.

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    • Cognitive games can help people with brain injuries.
      By: Balint Radu
      Cognitive games can help people with brain injuries.
    • Playing dominoes may help improve memory.
      By: Brian Jackson
      Playing dominoes may help improve memory.
    • Most computer games would be considered cognitive games.
      By: SanjMur
      Most computer games would be considered cognitive games.
    • Board games for children are a type of cognitive game.
      By: Ilike
      Board games for children are a type of cognitive game.