The Science of Cognitive Training: Improving Brain Function with Brain Games
Cognitive abilities can often decline with age. Because away from the rigors of school and new mental challenges, your brain might no longer encounter activities that require the same level of flexibility and focus. These cognitive declines can result in difficulty learning new things, solving problems, and remembering important details.
Curious about what you can do to keep your mind sharp? Keep reading to explore the science behind cognitive training, the benefits of brain training, and practical tips for incorporating brain games into your daily life.
Understanding Cognitive Function
Cognitive function is essential for daily life. Broadly speaking, it's how your brain interacts with the world around you. It involves a variety of different, but related, cognitive skills, including learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, decision-making, and multitasking.
As you age, your brain naturally shrinks, decreasing the number of synapses and receptors powering your cognitive functions. The rate of this decrease varies by person—and it can be affected by other factors, such as family history or cognitive impairment—but the brain is capable of change, especially as it ages.
The Science Behind Cognitive Training
Cognitive training is a type of brain exercise that involves challenging the brain with a diverse set of mentally stimulating tasks. It's not unlike physical training. Both physical and mental training help you develop greater coordination, flexibility, stamina, and concentration. But instead of using weights or other equipment to build your muscles, cognitive training involves the use of games and activities that work out your mind.
Research suggests that training cognitive skills can improve brain function. And the key to successful cognitive training lies in understanding how the brain works. The brain is composed of billions of neurons that form complex networks. These networks are responsible for processing information and creating new memories. When these neural networks are strengthened, which is what cognitive training is designed to do, cognitive function can be improved.
In other words, the more you train your brain, the more you're strengthening the brain functions associated with working memory, sustained attention, clear communication, processing speed, mental math, and more.
The Benefits of Brain Games for Cognitive Training
Brain games are a popular form of cognitive training. They are designed to challenge the brain in an engaging way. The reason for this is twofold: An effective brain game needs to improve cognitive function while also being enjoyable to play. A lengthy, exhausting brain training program isn't doing anyone any favors if nobody wants to use it.
From short-term memory games to logic puzzles and more, brain games come in all different shapes, sizes, and formats. Some people prefer pen-and-paper challenges, while others turn to apps and websites. The benefit of this variety is that you can train your brain anywhere at any time, whether you're at home or on the go, in a waiting room or on a plane.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that not all brain games have the same cognitive benefits. If you're serious about improving cognitive functions, you'll want to focus on brain games that are backed by actual science and rooted in practical skills—as opposed to those that are simply fun.
With the Elevate app, you can access and learn how to play 40+ entertaining games created in collaboration with experts in neuroscience and cognitive learning and based on scientific research. And the games cover a wide range of skills, including communication, memory, mental math, vocabulary, and more.
Tips and Techniques for Cognitive Training
In addition to brain games, there are other strategies for cognitive training. The most basic and important one: Taking care of your body. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep are essential. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which improves cognitive function. A healthy diet provides the brain with the necessary nutrients for optimal function. And adequate sleep is essential for memory consolidation and processing.
Trying new activities is another way to engage in cognitive training. Learning a new language or discovering how to play an instrument, for example, challenges the brain and can help improve cognitive function. Studies have shown that learning to play an instrument can positively affect non-musical cognitive abilities. So if you're looking for a new challenge and a way to improve your cognitive abilities, consider trying something completely new.
And when it comes to protecting your brain and its cognitive abilities, prioritize your mental health as well. Considering the link between stress and underperforming cognitive function, checking in with your emotions, taking breaks, and trying meditation can help you manage your anxiety and help prevent cognitive decline.
You can take the first steps toward prioritizing your mental health by downloading the Balance app—your entire first year is completely free.
Cognitive Training for Personal and Professional Growth
Cognitive training isn't just for boosting brain power. It can also be used to reach personal and professional goals. For students, cognitive training can improve academic performance, helping them to better understand and retain information. It can also help with test-taking skills, such as problem-solving, short-term memory recall, processing speed, and multitasking.
For professionals, cognitive training can help improve communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills, giving them a competitive edge in the workplace. Additionally, cognitive training can help with career advancement by increasing confidence and preparing individuals for new roles or responsibilities.
Elevate's brain games are specifically designed to help you build practical, real-world skills that can boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence. And with a fully personalized program, achievements, and daily streaks, the app makes cognitive training a quick, easy, and fun part of your daily routine, ensuring you stay sharp for years to come.
Start Strengthening Your Cognitive Skills Today
Cognitive decline is a natural part of aging, but there are practical steps you can take to keep your mind focused and flexible. Most importantly, look after your mental and physical health. You can't keep your brain sharp if you're neglecting your overall well-being.
Beyond taking care of yourself, brain games are one of the best ways to strengthen cognitive function—and certainly the most fun. With the Elevate app, you can make cognitive training a part of your daily life with a program that's personalized to how you learn. You'll get customized, interactive, and fun brain workouts featuring 40+ games backed by science and designed to improve your communication, mental math, memory skills, and more.
Download the Elevate App for iOS or Android, and start your brain training journey today!