6 Fun Apps That Can Help Support a Healthy Brain

Play games, boost brainpower? It may sound too good to be true, but playing games like those you’d find on your phone could help you stay sharp for years to come.

“There’s been a lot of research in this area and there’s definitely a link between mental stimulation and lowering your risk for cognitive decline with age,” says Gary Small, MD, chair of psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, and author of The Memory Bible. Dr. Small is the former director of the UCLA Longevity Center and has led studies on memory fitness programs.

For example, previous research found that older adults who played a multitasking video game three hours a week for four weeks saw significant improvements in multitasking ability, working memory, and attention, compared with those who did not. The researchers note that our ability to multitask declines once we leave our twenties, similarly to the decline in other cognitive skills, such as reasoning and working memory. By playing games that require you to juggle tasks, you may be able to stave off cognitive decline and related diseases like dementia.

Games may benefit younger brains, too. In June 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted marketing of a game-based digital device to improve attention function in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Kids with ADHD are often restless, struggle to stay focused, and act impulsively, which can lead to poor school performance, per the National Institute of Mental Health. Available only by prescription, EndeavorRx is the first game-based digital therapeutic treatment shown to improve symptoms associated with ADHD.

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