If you are a regular on social media (who isn’t these days?), there’s no chance that Wordle wouldn’t have caught your attention. This recently-introduced word game has been trending over the last few weeks, and even though the stacks of multi-coloured squares may not make sense to you in the beginning, it’s only a matter of time before you will start enjoying the game. Plus, if you want to sharpen your memory, we say there’s nothing better!
This isn’t the first time that a brain game has caught on among the masses. Sudoku and Crossword too, have been around for a long time. But what is it about these games that can benefit people, especially the older generation?
In 2019, a study titled ‘An online investigation of the relationship between the frequency of word puzzle use and cognitive function in a large sample of older adults’, found that adults older than 50 who frequently engage in word games, like crosswords, or Sudoku, perform better at tasks that require the use of their memory, reasoning, and attention skills.
Dr Kunal Bahrani, Associate Director Neurology, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, tells HealthShots, “Training with brain games like Wordle and Sudoku stimulates specific neural patterns. The repetition of this pattern through consistent training can help improve the creation of new synapses and neural circuits capable of reorganizing and recovering damaged or weakened cognitive functions.”
With the help of such brain games, one can train their brain to improve memory, retain information, and stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s and more.
Simply put, it is a web game where people are required to guess a predetermined five-letter word in six tries. A yellow and green grid serves as the window where players carry out their guessing game. What’s more? People can share their spoiler-free wins of the game across social media and through phone chats with friends and family members. It’s the in thing!
“These brain games make you think and think critically, and can also help improve your concentration. These games require careful thought because you have to think about where you are going to be placing the numbers, and if they are going to interfere with the numbers in other boxes and lines. As you learn to concentrate on winning the game, you may also learn to better concentrate on other things,” shares Bahrani.
Akanksha Singh Chandele, counseling psychologist, and Director – I Am Wellbeing (Nairatmya foundation), tells HealthShots, “Having a good level of cognitive and executive functioning is extremely important in our day-to-day activities, which allow us to get through our day independently. Word games help enhance these functioning capacities. The ability to be independent adds tremendously to the overall well-being of a person. Word games can thus be a great mental workout for the older population.”
Devisha Batra, senior counseling psychologist, IWill explains that these games become more difficult as one completes levels. As the complexity increases, the cognitive demand will increase.
“As focus gets better, selective attention is enhanced. The player knows which words/numbers are needed while removing the less relevant ones. For instance, a game like Worldle requires recognition of words, remembering words from our knowledge bank, and retrieval, hence involving all processes of memories.
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Tracking words and numbers involve learning and memory. Planning our steps and trying different numbers or planning which word to open can help remove the wrong ones, and help find out which number/word goes in a particular gap. Thus, this helps in problem-solving, as one tries to find ways to complete the puzzle or number game,” she says.
As one moves on finding words and spaces to fill numbers, visual scanning is stimulated. As we try to manage moves and plan the next steps, these games play a role in strengthening our spatial perception. Playing these games also helps in enhancing our multi-tasking ability by increasing attentional capacity and mental flexibility.
Although these games have their share of advantages, there is a limit to how much you can play them.
“To enhance cognitive function, games are not the only way. There are other ways too that can be beneficial. In short, these games are not a quick fix but one of the many ways that can improve/enhance cognitive functions,” shares Batra.
Dr Bahrani has the following suggestions:
Your mind and body are interconnected. Often, what benefits the body benefits the brain. Regular exercise, even taking a simple walk, goes a long way towards improving your memory and cognitive skills.
As part of a study published in the journal Neurology, it was revealed that regular reading and writing in late life reduced the rate of memory decline by 32 percent.
You may know that nuts, fish, and red wine have been linked to a healthy brain, but reducing sugar intake can help stimulate your mind, too.
Writing improves working memory and communication abilities. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you write because simply expressing yourself will boost your brain activity.