Expert Advice

Do "brain-boosting" computer games improve your memory?

Do "brain-boosting" computer games improve your memory?
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NO. There’s a lot of hype but very little science to back up claims that these games make you smarter or help your memory.

Game-specific skills. Brainboosting games make you more proficient in exactly what you’re being trained to do in the game, for example, memorize certain facts. That practice won’t make you any faster at counting the change in your pocket. Likewise, games designed to improve your short-term memory have not been shown to produce lasting results.

Some games work. Crossword puzzles likely improve language circuits, while Sudoku may drive some basic number networks and prefrontal “planning” networks.

Proven memory tips. Instead of playing a game, go see a play with friends and discuss it afterward: Most social activities require attention and focus, and challenge shortand long-term memory.

There’s also evidence that regular exercise (at least 30 minutes per day) protects the memory sections of the brain, and a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and “smart” fats like those from fish, avocados, and nuts can help brain function.
—Mike Greicius, M.D., assistant professor of neurology, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, Calif.