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Cognitive Training: 4 Games That Can Keep Your Mind Sharp

We know things like proper nutrition and a fitness regimen play roles in keeping our minds sharp, as do specific brain training exercises, learning new things, and practicing languages apart from our native one(s). Not unlike some of those brain training and learning processes, there are also games that can keep the mind sharp. Let’s check out some of the more common games.


Scrabble is a classic board game where players make words using the letter tiles available to them. Studies show that it helps the players develop their vocabulary when played regularly, and it also improves working memory and visual perception. People who play Scrabble tend to have better short- and long-term memories, when they’re playing the game as well as when they’re just going through their daily lives. Also, Scrabble is a slow-paced game which means that essentially anyone can play it!


This is a board game for two players. It consists of a set of dice and black and white checkers. Each player needs to get their checkers into their home court and eventually bear off each of their own checkers. True to the adage “a minute to learn, a lifetime to master”, backgammon is indeed easy to learn. However, its complexity means that players need to stay sharp in order to keep up with their opponent. In fact, board game players show a 15% lower risk of developing dementia, and backgammon is included in the list of board games mentioned.


If you’ve ever played poker, you’ll know that there are quite a few things to remember, such as common hands and how odds and pot odds work. However, among the mental skills associated with poker, emotional intelligence is arguably the most intriguing. The emotional rollercoaster that poker can be, with wins, losses, and close calls, players need to be able to handle a wide range of emotions: joy, excitement, anticipation, worry, and disappointment. Even anger can make its way into a poker player’s game – but the way a player reacts and handles certain situations and emotions is important. This skill also shows up in day-to-day life in which we have to handle situations well – without showing strong negative emotions.


Exactly as the name implies, the objective of this card game is to slap your hand on the table if a Jack is played. Players flip cards over one by one until one of the four jacks appears, and the first one to slam their hand onto it wins that round. You can change the card that needs to be slapped, just to keep things fresh. While this is an extremely simple game, it also requires some mental and physical gymnastics. For the most part, players develop visual recognition skills, and their physical reaction time and hand/eye coordination improve.

If you’re looking for games to keep your (and your opponent’s) minds sharp, we hope that these four can get you started.