Friday, July 8, 2011

Family Game Night Can Make You Smarter

My daughter brought two treats when she came home for college break.  A new game, Bananagrams, and a new book by Richard Restak, M.D. and puzzle master Scott Kim called The Playful Brain: the surprising science of how puzzles improve your mind

In this collaboration, Kim shares some of his favorite puzzle formats, and Dr. Restak explains the science behind the games.  Together they cover a wide variety of puzzles that have been shown to keep us alert, thinking, and youthful in mind and spirit.  fMRI data (which shows electrical activity in different parts of your brain) helps to tease out which areas of the brain are activated as people solve different types of puzzles.  

Scientists have not been able to prove a direct link between these forms of brain exercise and prevention of various forms of dementia.  But the puzzles, and games like Bananagrams, provide a focus for interpersonal interaction – playing with your family, talking with your neighbors – which does have a powerful effect on mood and our sense of well-being. 

Summer is the perfect time to bond with your kids in a board game challenge.  How do you get your family to put down their cell phones and turn off the TV to play a game?  Please share suggestions!

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