Best Games You Can Play to Improve Your Memory

Updated September 22, 2023

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Improving your short- and long-term memory can not only improve your performance at work by boosting your productivity, but it can also impact your decision-making and organizational skills. Improved memory can also help to reduce stress, which can further improve your performance and overall happiness at work. To improve your memory requires time and regular exercise of the brain.

In this article, we’ll discuss memory games and how you can use them to boost your memory, as well as other tips for improving brain function.

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What are memory games?

Memory games are a fun method of exercising your mind to improve your memory. Like our bodies, the brain needs regular use to stay healthy and sharp.

Memory games challenge the mind and help the gray matter in our brains—the part that impacts memory—to grow and expand. Research has shown that just 15 minutes each day of brain training can improve brain function (via PLOS One).

Related: How To Use Mnemonic Techniques for Memory Improvement

Work benefits of improving your memory

Improving your memory can have a big impact on your work. Some benefits include:

  • Better performance since you retain and learn new information better

  • Greater productivity since you have a strong working memory that allows you to retain information while using it

  • Less stress since you will better remember information when you need it

  • Improved organization and ability to remember where things are

  • Better decision-making 

Related: The Importance of Cognitive Ability in Your Career

Games to improve your memory

Here are the top games you can play to improve your memory.

1. Crossword puzzles

Crosswords are one of the most classic brain training games. These games can help test your vocabulary skills and draw on knowledge from history, science and popular culture. You can perform crosswords online or through gaming apps or go with the more traditional route, such as printed books or newspapers. 

Crosswords are often used as a cognitive exercise to delay the onset of dementia, especially when made into a regular habit. Focus on puzzles that are challenging and keep your brain engaged. Because it’s possible to strain your brain, limit yourself to one challenging puzzle per day.

Related: How To Think Critically: 7 Ways To Improve Your Skills

2. Chess

The game of chess was designed to be a mentally intensive and intellectually challenging game. It requires reliance on short-term memory to fully analyze the board and create a strategy for each move.

You will also have to anticipate the moves of your opponent and make sure each move works in a way to help you achieve your end goal. This action triggers your long-term memory so you are exercising both portions of your brain in a shifting pattern.

Related: 12 Strategy Types (Plus Benefits and How-To Guide)

3. Jigsaw puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are effective brain training games, as they require you to work the left and right sides of the brain at once. They also reinforce the connections between the brain cells, which improves mental speed and improves short-term memory.

Jigsaw puzzles reinforce visual-spatial reasoning as well, as you need to look at the individual pieces and identify where they fit into the big picture.

Related: What Are Cognitive Processes: Definition, Types and Uses

4. Rebus puzzles

A Rebus puzzle works well for improving memory and brainpower. This puzzle asks a question and then the clues to the answer are found in numbers, letters, pictures and symbols. Players must have knowledge of and be able to remember cliches and expressions to solve the puzzles.

5. Sudoku

Sudoku can help improve your memory retrieval and stimulate other parts of your brain. To successfully complete this game, you are required to keep a range of numbers in your head while placing them mentally in one of the nine spaces on the grid.

This game relies heavily on working memory to memorize the numbers and then uses logical thinking to figure out the next blank. 

Because Sudoku requires players to think strategically and use creative thinking to solve problems, it can help to increase both concentration and problem-solving skills. Players learn how to make decisions and take action with less hesitation.

Related: 10 Team Building Puzzles To Challenge Your Team

6. Concentration

Concentration is a popular game used to help children develop memory and retention skills. In this game, you lay any number of cards face down and then flip two at a time, trying to match sets.

To increase the difficulty of the game and challenge your brain more, opt for the “spaghetti” variation, where the cards are in a messier arrangement. The less orderly layout will make it more challenging to remember where the cards are and increase the level of difficulty for your brain.

Related: 10 Focus Exercises To Help Improve Concentration Skills

7. Games that require multi-tasking

Consider choosing games that require you to multitask. This can help you improve your working memory and recall the necessary information when needed to solve a problem.

By doing this, your neural markers will be modulated, which can train your brain better to cope with distractions and interference in the midst of retrieving information. Video games are actually excellent for boosting brain power by improving multitasking skills.

Related: The Art of Multitasking: Definition + 25 Examples

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Tips for improving your memory

Here are a few extra tips to help you improve your memory for better performance in the workplace.

  • Meditate: Research has shown that meditation increases the gray matter in the brain, the part of the brain that impacts memory and cognition. Meditation and relaxation techniques have been shown to improve short-term memory for people of all ages.

  • Get enough sleep: Sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation, the process in which short-term memories are transformed into long-term ones. Experts recommend between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for adults.

  • Exercise: Research has shown that exercise may improve the growth and development of neurons, which leads to improved brain health.

  • One thing at a time: When you are performing any task, focus on that one task. By avoiding multitasking and focusing on one thing at a time, your brain will have time to encode the information properly.

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