Cognitive skills are something we should all invest more time in. The more you work on your cognition, the better you can perform in your job, retain memories, and even solve problems.
To improve your cognitive skills, you need to work constantly on strengthening the most important muscle in your body – your brain. The more you challenge your mind with strategic problems, the more effective you become at using your brain.
Surprisingly, training your brain might not be quite as grueling as it seems. Unlike building your biceps, working on your mental strength doesn’t require any sweat or grit. All you need is a board game, and a little time.
That’s right – games could be the key to enhancing your cognitive skills.
How Games Like Yahtzee Help Cognition
While not all games are designed specifically to improve cognitive skills, many put your brain to the test in a host of different ways. When you play a game, you’re constantly looking for solutions to challenges, learning new skills, and memorizing significant instructions.
Let’s look at Yahtzee, for instance. One of the most popular games in the world, Yahtzee is something most people can play easily. All you require is 5 dice, a set of scoresheets (or some pieces of paper), and a pencil. For years, Yahtzee has been recommended as a tool for helping parents and teachers to teach mathematic skills to children.
With Yahtzee, you can learn:
- Recognition: You learn how to pinpoint and identify important pieces of information, like how many pips (marks) or on each side of a die. You can also recognize how certain combinations of dice lead to certain scores over time. This develops memory.
- Counting and addition: You’ll count the numbers on the dice and add each number together to start calculating your scores. The more a child plays Yahtzee, the more they develop their addition to skills, often to the point where they can quickly add numbers in seconds.
- Multiplication: When you roll multiples in Yahtzee, you need to use that in calculating your total score. As children continue to play this game, they can learn how to multiply numbers and quickly determine how different figures work together.
- Probability: For older children, it’s possible to discuss the concepts of chance and probability as you play a game like Yahtzee. For instance, a large straight in the game requires 5 numbers in sequence. Being able to calculate the probability of getting each number at the right time can be valuable in developing problem-solving skills.
Improving Information Retrieval and Memory
As most fans of the game will know, playing Yahtzee isn’t just useful for youngsters. Throughout our lives, playing games can help with a number of cognitive skills, as well as personal development. For instance, playing Yahtzee can help develop social skills and avoid feelings of isolation as we age.
Learning how to play games like Yahtzee also teaches us how to hone skills like patience, discipline, and concentration – all characteristics which continue to have benefits throughout our lives.
As we get older, these games can also help with keeping the mind in shape, and reducing the risk of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss. Playing Yahtzee tests your information retrieval skills and memory on a consistent basis.
When you’re playing this game, you need to remember how to add up a score, and what certain combinations of dice rolls mean. Learning these rules puts the brain to work and forces us to retrieve crucial information every time we play a new game. Practicing this memory management and information retrieval process over time can be very valuable for cognitive health.
Using Games to Improve Cognition
For years, scientists have been exploring the benefits of games and “leisure” activities for more than just relaxation and fun. As gaming becomes a more popular pastime, we’ve begun to discover just how effective it can be in not only tackling feelings of stress and anxiety, but also improving the way we manage our thoughts and develop skills.
The great thing about games like Yahtzee, is they’re accessible to anyone. Most people can understand the rules associated with this game, and once you’ve learned how to play, you can have a lot of fun challenging new and old friends. However, almost any game that puts the brain to the test can have value for your mind and brain.
Remember, like any muscle, your brain needs to be worked and refined constantly to continue performing at its best. The good news is you don’t have to visit a gym or sign up for work with a personal trainer to keep your cognition sharp. All you really need is a game of Yahtzee.
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