13 games and strategies to exercise the mind

The mind. This concept, its exact meaning and how it works are still the subject of speculation and debate, both scientifically and philosophically. refers to the set of cognitive abilities of a subject.

This set of skills is what allows us, among other things, to have our own identity, to solve simple or complex problems, to detect and process different information and to adapt to the environment.

however, these abilities do not remain stable from birth to death. For this reason, it is very important to contribute as much as possible to their development. Therefore, this article is dedicated to visualizing a number of strategies and games to exercise the mind.

A question of brain plasticity

As we have mentioned, intellectual abilities are not an invariable element throughout life, but are modified according to our life experiences, the environment around us and the level of environmental stimulation to which we have. access.

This change is mainly due to brain plasticity, The capacity of the brain to change its structure according to the needs of the body and its mode of functioning, allowing the restructuring of the thinking organ by the creation of neural synapses. It is this creation of new neural networks and the strengthening of old ones that allows us to learn and consolidate new knowledge, allowing us to acquire a new skill to overcome and regain normal functioning after brain injury.

Although plasticity is much greater during stages of growth such as childhood and subsequent decay, it is a property that continues to exist at all ages, and it is especially important to maintain and maintain it. apply at later stages of growth. well-being and proper functioning of intellectual capacities.

Neurogenesis: the ability to renew neurons

However, to produce to promote neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) and / or a strengthening or expansion of synaptic or neural networks, it is not enough to do a specific exercise on one occasion, but to modify one’s own skills. and behaviors requires regular practice which allows the automation of new sequences of behaviors and strategies, by integrating them into our usual repertoire.

In other words, regular practice is necessary to improve or maintain our mental abilitiesAccompany all of this with a good diet and a healthy lifestyle. And, of course, a great way to make the neural networks that populate our brains become flexible and easily adaptable to new everyday challenges is to use mind training games: these will make our brains used to create a rich environment. and a very varied network of interconnections, which will allow us to have greater mental flexibility.

Thirteen games to exercise the mind

Let’s take a look at a series of mind exercises below.

1. Mathematical training

The use of mathematics as a strategy to exercise the mind is known to many, Including activities such as sudoku and other traditional games. However, this time the game is based on choosing a completely random number (for example 12,345) and starting from other numbers (for example 6, 7, 8 and 9) to develop a series of mathematical strategies for reach the initial number. For this, they can use addition, subtraction, multiplication, division … It can be complicated by requiring the use of specific elements, such as the use of square roots or more complex elements.

2. Find the pairs

Another game to exercise the mind, especially visuospatial memory, is the card game.. It is based on the unfolding on a table or a flat surface of a set of equal pairs of cards after the fight (the type of fight or even the pictures if you have them is immaterial although it is recommended to use easy-to-remember images). The game consists of visualizing the deck of cards face up, visualizing the location of each pair of cards for ten seconds of memorization to turn them over everywhere.

Next, they have to turn over one of the cards and then remember where their partner was and turn that over as well. The game continues until all pairs of cards are met. This strategy of exercising the mind can make it difficult by making the images to remember or recognize more complex, or by increasing the number of cards as the game ends and you start over.

3. Word list

This time it is intended to train memory by adding a creative component. The game or strategy consists of the initial creation of a list of simple words, of no more than seven items. This list will be read by all participants and can be read aloud by one of them or each participant can have ten seconds to memorize it. The game in question is that each participant will start repeating the list of words in the same order in which they were issued to the list, adding at the end of it one more word from their own harvest.

The next individual should remember and say aloud the list plus the word added by the previous one and in turn add another, and so on. The strategy for exercising the mind is based on withholding information, with a distraction component of having to imagine one more word and being careful to incorporate the new words. Specifically, working memory is exercised, especially auditory.

4. Find your symbol

This memory exercise game is based on the sustained maintenance of attention. It can be used with symbols, words, letters or numbers. To do this, you just need to use a diverse set of symbols and signs, in which to carefully look for one or more specific elements. Technically, the operation is almost identical to that of classic letter soup. In addition to attention, in this game you can see the speed of processing subjects, if you measure the time it takes to complete the task.

5. Word game: word association

This game requires multiple participants. In him, the first of the subjects says a word, having the following participant to respond to another which begins with the same syllable as with which he ended this one with the previous individual. This can be complicated by adding rules such as that they belong to the same lexical family or thematic area, or by trying to give the whole the form of a story. It improves processing speed and mental agility, as well as creativity.

    6. Find the differences

    In order to strengthen concentration, the ability to discriminate between stimuli, and the ability to focus on details, the difference finder game is very useful for exercising the mind. Its operation relies on locating a number of differences between two apparently equal images.

    7. Puzzles and others

    Performing a game or activity as known as a puzzle is also a more than valid strategy for exercising the mind. More precisely, used to exercise manipulative and visuospatial skills, Having to work with the situation of the parts and place them correctly so that the parts fit together. To increase the complexity, you can gradually increase the number of pieces needed or move on to three-dimensional puzzles such as Rubik Buckets.

    8. Make a story

    This strategy for exercising the mind is simple but very useful **. He tries to stimulate creativity by developing a short story **, in which a series of specific words chosen in advance must appear. These words may be known to the person performing the exercise or they may be unknown, in which case the challenge is greater that they do not resort to outside help (a dictionary for example) or if they do, allowing the development to compensate for the difficulties.

    9. Puzzles and dilemmas

    This type of mindfulness strategy is popular and enjoyable for both adults and children. It is based on solving puzzles and dilemmas related to the use of logic and creativity of the participants. Lateral thinking is also stimulated If problems are used that do not have a simple solution or that are completely correct or incorrect, look for the generation of new policies.

    10. Debate

    While it might not sound like it, debate is one of the best games to exercise the mind. Regularly participating in a program allows you to train argumentation and creation of coherent speeches. For example, it forces us to think of the best answers to opposing arguments, to prioritize some of our own arguments over others, to detect errors in the other’s explanations and to avoid them in ourselves- same, and so on.

    11. Chess

    Chess is the paradigm of the game in which the prediction of possible future scenarios is of fundamental importance. It is a game in which you have to follow very specific rules, which makes randomness lose importance, and therefore we have to try to think of a series of possible movements both from the opposite and from ourselves.

    12. Exquisite Corpse

    A group game in which each person, in turn, plays a role in a drawing what the person from the previous team drew. It can also be done by writing parts of a story instead of a cartoonist. A great way to work on creativity.

    13. Commemorative statement

    This game is very simple and more can be done virtually anywhere. When you are stressed in an area where there are a lot of objects or people, close your eyes and try to memorize the amount of any of these.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Kolb, B .; Mohammad, A. & Gibb, R. (2010), Investigating the factors underlying brain plasticity in normal and damaged brains. Journal of Communication Disorders.

    • Maroto, MA (2003). Memory, stimulation and cognitive maintenance program for the elderly. Institute of Public Health. Madrid.

    • Martí, P .; Mercadal, M .; Cardona, J .; Ruiz, I .; Sacristan, M. and Mañós, Q. (2004). Non-pharmacological intervention in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: mixture. In J, Deví., J, Deus, Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Practical and Interdisciplinary Approach (559-587). Barcelona: Higher Institute of Psychological Studies.

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