Turn over those brain cells by playing some games 3

It’s great to be able to have some downtime playing a game, and yet it’s something that many of us never make much time to do. Playing a game seems like a frivolous use of our time, especially when we generally all lead such busy lives these days.

However, if you want a good excuse to play, then you may be pleased to hear that some studies have shown that playing games can help boost our brain power.

One such study looked into the mental benefits of playing bingo. A group of people were asked by researchers at Southampton University to carry out a series of mental agility tasks. Half the group were bingo players, while the other half were not. The bingo players scored more highly in the mental agility tests for their ability to absorb information, their capacity to remember and their mental speed than the non-bingo players.

Apparently, it’s all about the multi-tasking that your brain has to do while playing bingo. While you listen out to the numbers called, you have to cross-check on a series of cards to mark off any matching numbers. With 75 ball games, you also have to scan the cards to identify vertical, horizontal and diagonal patterns, with the brain having to carry out a number of operations at once. You can even get these mental exercise benefits when playing online at a site such as Winner or Tombola bingo, as long as you turn the auto-daub feature off which means you need to mark the numbers yourself. Sign up and play here to give your brain a boost. Other games such as keno are thought to be useful for developing mental speed, but it’s the multi-tasking elements in bingo which really give it the edge.

Playing traditional word games such as crossword puzzles and games like Scrabble can help you think about finding solutions. One big benefit of playing word games is that you can increase your word-power, expanding your vocabulary with every game that you play. Crossword puzzles are particularly good at helping you discover the meanings of new words that you might never have heard of otherwise. A good tip for a crossword novice is to start off with the concise crosswords; if you attempt cryptic crosswords from the off you may be disheartened and give up too easily.

Even playing action or shooter video games can be beneficial for the brain. A study by Iowa University looked into how accurate surgeons were in their work. A group of surgeons – half of whom played three hours or more of video games each week – were studied. The video gamers were shown to be 37 per cent more accurate and 27% faster in their work than the non-gamers. Another study by the University of Toronto also found playing quick-paced action video games can boost your ability to learn new motor skills.

If you are due to have any surgery, you may not want to find out if your surgeon is a gamer or not before you have the operation.


Next time you find yourself playing Candy Crush or getting your eyes down for a game of bingo, don’t feel guilty. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting those brain cells into gear!

Written by Emily Davies. Image by Getty.

Games I like are Cluedo, Scotland Yard, Monopoly and the timeless classic chess. I’m not much good at any of them really, and tend to come off better in card games. Not poker or anything like that, as I’ve never actually learnt those Wild West casino games, but good old Uno and snap. I win at those so often the kids cry, sorry lads.

As for computer games, I’ve never really got in to Candy Crush although I joke with my Mother that she needs to go Candy Crush rehab. For games on my phone it’s Sudoku or The Simpson’s Tapped Out.

As regular readers here will know, I love a good competition. I even enjoy a spot of bingo now and then, usually when I am on holiday. Why do all holiday parks have bingo nights?

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