It’s crucial to keep engaging our brain function to improve cognitive development and overall health. Our minds are sophisticated, intricate mechanisms that help us perform absolutely everything; and in return, we need to take excellent care of them. For those who love to game, it’s a win-win situation: word search games have been shown to improve mental function with just a tap of the finger! Not only do these puzzles trigger our ‘reward molecule’ dopamine when we’ve completed a task, they’re also linked to several important cognitive behaviors in our brain that keep us stimulated.
Neuroscientific research from the Harvard Business Review has demonstrated that you can strengthen your brain’s anatomy, neural networks, and cognitive abilities with mental workouts. Cognitive fitness can help you be open to new ideas and broader perspectives; giving you the capacity to change your behavior and set new goals. You can even alter the physical makeup of your brain by learning new skills: the fitter your cognitive abilities are, the better equipped you are to make rational decisions, solve problems, and even deal with stress. Together, those steps create opportunities for maintaining an engaged, creative, and highly functional mind.
Expanding upon the results of this study, word searches can then be said to enhance pattern recognition capabilities, which are another important mental faculty. Our brains are excellent tools for analyzing patterns, helping us find rhyme and reason in unstructured objects, like word search puzzles. We love a game like chess because it asks us to use logical reasoning to determine a game strategy among infinite possibilities using pattern recognition. Word games similarly require us to detect sequences in order to make a move; for example, where ‘Q’ is always followed by ‘U’, and is thus associated as a pair, usually at the beginning of a word.
Word search games also offer unique benefits for mental agility. Studies have found that they’re particularly useful in helping people learn a second language, especially new vocabulary. The first step in learning new vocabulary is exposure to the word itself, after which students can recognize and memorize words in a fun way to continue their learning development. Word search games are the perfect way to get students to engage this way. Even native speakers can discover new words they didn’t know before: most English-speaking adults have a 20 to 35 thousand word vocabulary, while there are over 1 million words in the English language.
As our cognitive functions get sharper by playing word search games, so too does our sensitivity to recognizing other words. By capturing fragments in word groups, people learning a new language are more able to distinguish new words with similar beginnings or clusters of letters; helping them to grasp principal linguistic elements. As they play more and more, this sensitivity becomes more heightened, allowing them to easily pick up on a language’s nuances. As well as benefitting those core learning skills, this also helps to refine reading, writing, and spelling abilities for both new language learners and native speakers.
Given enough of a challenge including time limits and harder or bigger puzzles, word searches can also improve concentration and focus for any kind of player, as long as the users feel compelled to keep on searching with a stimulating format. The Alzheimer’s Association has suggested that word search games can help keep your brain active, stimulating other areas that require critical thinking and alertness.
Our brains need to be engaged for mental acuity and focus. With so many traditional word puzzles now taking shape in the form of digital apps, it’s becoming much easier to challenge ourselves with fun games such as word search puzzles, training our own mental performance for the better. There’s a wealth of opportunity to fine-tune your cognitive strength no matter what kind of life you lead. Whether you’re a retiree, a busy executive, or a young student, it’s easier than ever to simply download a free app game straight to your cellphone, and engage in a fun brain-stimulating word search game whenever you have the time.