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Brain Games, Quizzes and Puzzles
What’s got many pieces but makes up one whole? Is it a pizza? A pie? A person? A parade? Another word that starts with P, perhaps? Oh, right—a puzzle!
You may have heard that puzzles and other brain games sharpen your mind—boosting memory, attention span, thinking speed, creativity and problem-solving skills—and that may or may not be true. (Scientists can’t agree.) But we do know that they’re loads of fun and a great way to stay engaged and entertained. So, if you love joggin’ your noggin with quizzes, puzzles, riddles, word games, guessing games, crosswords, hidden objects and spot-the-difference challenges, you’ve come to the right place. Ready, set, solve!
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Exercise your problem solving skills with our best brain games.
Some problems are nice to have, like our problem solving games, for example. Dive into an assortment of our best brain games designed to flex your planning, spatial reasoning, and logical reasoning skills.
Exercise your planning skills by finding the route to buried treasure.
Exercise your spatial reasoning by fitting pieces of a mosaic together.
Exercise your logical reasoning by planting seeds in the right order.
Exercise your logical reasoning by ordering fuses.
In Pet Detective, you must rescue all the lost pets, which means using your plan...
Learn more about Problem Solving
Logical reasoning requires that you apply rules to a scenario after planning the outcome. Quantitative reasoning asks you to compare quantities that are expressed differently from each other.
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Boost Your Brain Power With These Tricky Puzzles
Your brain isn’t a muscle—in fact, it’s mostly fat!—but the right kind of mental exercise can help keep it in shape. These puzzles are designed to give your problem-solving, reasoning, and concentration skills a workout. And they come in varying degrees of difficulty, so pace yourself!
Brain Games to Give Your Grey Matter a Good Workout
Doing a crossword or a Sudoku every day to keep your mind sharp may seem like a recent concept. In fact, people have been challenging themselves with brain games as far back as 3,600 years ago, when the ancient Egyptians developed math problems on papyrus and wooden tablets.
Brain Game #1: Counting Digits
How many times does the digit 5 occur in the numbers from 1 to 100? 3 / 49
Twenty times. The digit 5 appears 10 times as a last digit (5, 15, 25 … 95) and 10 times as a first digit (50, 51, 52 … 59).
Can you pass this brainteasing colour quiz ?
Brain Game #2: Match Play
The grid contains matches of different sizes, any of which may be completely unburned, partially burned, or completely burned. Matches burn from the head (the red end) to the tail without skipping segments. The numbers outside the grid indicate the number of burned segments in the corresponding row or column. Can you shade in the burned segments to “match” the numbers?
How many of these general knowledge quiz questions can you answer?
Brain Game #3: Lost Time
Sophie and Caroline made arrangements to meet at a café at 2 p.m. Sophie thinks her watch is 25 minutes fast, although it is actually 10 minutes slow. Caroline thinks her watch is 10 minutes slow, while it is actually 5 minutes fast. What will happen if they both aim to arrive exactly on time?
Sophie will be 35 minutes late. Caroline will arrive at 1:45 p.m., 15 minutes ahead of time.
See if you can match these adjectives with their proper definitions .
Brain Game #4: Meteor Showers Bring Spring Flowers
Space dust has landed on Earth, carrying with it seeds for exotic new alien flowers. One of them still lacks a name. If the xenobotanists follow the same rules they used to create the other terms, what should they call the last flower?
Cosmofilium jupibristo. The first half of the top term tells the colour of the flower’s centre; the last half is the petal colour. The first half of the bottom term tells the shape of the flower’s centre; the last half is the shape of the petals.
Test your vocabulary with our Canadian slang quiz .
Brain Game #5: Quick Crossword
Place the words listed below in the crossword grid.
Can you solve these printable crossword puzzles from the pages of Reader’s Digest Canada ?
Brain Game #6: The Long and Short of It
Six neighbourhood children—Leisha, Benito, Delia, Charlotte, Weldon, and Zina—were measured yesterday. Weldon is taller than Delia but shorter than Zina. Leisha is taller than Benito but shorter than Delia and Weldon. Benito is not the shortest. List the kids in order of height from tallest to shortest.
Zina, Weldon, Delia, Leisha, Benito, Charlotte.
Here are 20 printable word searches to download for free.
Brain Game #7: Bubble Math
A whole number between one and seven belongs in each of the seven bubbles. Each number occurs once. The sums of some of the numbers are revealed in the areas where their bubbles overlap. Can you figure out which number goes in each bubble?
You don’t need to be a math whiz to find these Pi Day jokes funny!
Brain Game #8: Crosshairs
None of the white squares in this diagram have their edges lined up. One of the squares is a different size from the others. Can you find it?
Can you pass this quiz of fourth grade science questions ?
Brain Game #9: Family Relations
Carmela receives a text message from an unfamiliar number, so she texts back, “Who is this?”
The strange response: “It’s one of your female relatives. Your mother’s mother is my father’s mother-in-law.” Even assuming that this information is true, it doesn’t help Carmela pinpoint an individual, since there are two relationships it could describe. What are they?
Sister or first cousin.
Know your way around a kitchen? Test your knowledge of cooking terms .
Brain Game #10: Word Sudoku
Complete the grid so that each row, each column, and each three-by-three frame contains the nine letters from the black box at the top. The hidden nine-letter word is in the diagonal from top left to bottom right.
Test your knowledge of these common crossword puzzle answers .
Brain Game #11: More or Less
Place the hexagons below into the pyramid so each number is either greater than the sum of the two numbers below it or less than the difference between them. For instance, if two adjacent numbers were 20 and 50, any number higher than 70 or lower than 30 could be on top of them. (And no, do not turn 98 upside down to make it 86!)
Need a bit of a breather? Here’s a roundup of our best riddles for kids .
Brain Game #12: Coffee Addicts
Kate and Faizal both believe that they need a cup of coffee every three hours to stay awake and function. They both drink their first cup at 8 a.m. and another one every three hours thereafter until they go to sleep. Considering the following facts, who is spending more on coffee each week?
- Kate stays up until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Faizal stays up until 10 p.m. every day.
- Kate pays $3 per cup of coffee. Faizal drinks higher-grade organic coffee and pays $4 per cup.
Faizal. He spends $140 per week, while Kate spends $111.
Brain Game #13: Happy campers
You just bought nine beautiful lakeside campsites, which you can rent to campers with tents for $20 per campsite per night. You can also upgrade the sites with electrical hookups. This will cost you $60 per campsite but will allow you to rent to RVers for $40 per night. Suppose you can always fill your campground to capacity. If you’re starting without any cash on hand, how many nights will pass before you’ll be able to upgrade all nine sites?
Three. On the first night, you’ll host nine tents and make $180, which you’ll use to upgrade three sites. On the second night, you’ll host three RVs and six tents, earning $240, letting you upgrade another four sites. On the third night, you’ll host seven RVs and two tents, earning you more than enough to upgrade the last two.
Looking for more brain games? See how you fare against these tough trivia questions .
Brain Game #14: Arithme-pick
Place one of the four basic arithmetic operations (+, –, ×, ÷) in each box to make a correct equation. All operations are performed from left to right, ignoring the mathematical order of operations. The result at each step must be a positive whole number. What’s the equation?
5 + 7 ÷ 3 × 9 – 4 = 32
Brain Game #15: Suit yourself
The playing card suits in the cells above are placed according to a pattern. What’s the missing symbol?
Spade. Each suit has a numerical value: diamonds equal one, hearts equal two, spades equal three, and clubs equal four. Or, if you prefer, diamonds equal four, hearts equal three, spades equal two, and clubs equal one. Either way, each row and column adds up to ten, and the missing symbol is a spade.
Here are 15 history questions everyone gets wrong.
Brain Game #16: Animal house
How many pets live in my house if all of them are snakes except two, all are hamsters except two, and all are rabbits except two?
One of each, for a total of three.
Can you guess the dog breed based on its puppy picture? 34 / 49
Brain Game #17: Win or Lose
The Reds, the Grays, the Blues, and the Blacks have a round-robin tournament wherein each team plays each other team once, for a total of six games. The Blacks won more games than the Blues, and the Grays lost more games than the Blues. The Reds tied the Blacks, the only tie in the tournament (a tie counts as neither a win nor a loss). Who won the game of the Reds versus the Blues?
The Reds. The Blacks tied one game, so they won a maximum of two games. They won more than the Blues, so the Blues won a maximum of one game. Since the Grays lost more times than the Blues, the Grays must have lost all three matches. The match that the Blues won must have been against the Grays, so the Blues lost the match against the Reds.
Ready for another Word Power challenge? This time, we’re testing your knowledge of royal terms .
Brain Game #18: Quick crossword
How well do you know your vehicle’s dashboard display? Take our car dashboard light quiz to find out.
Brain Game #19: 100-word mystery
Lois and Helen, widowed sisters, lived together out in the country. Their habits never changed: up at dawn, breakfast, some housework and gardening until lunch. In the afternoon, Helen napped while Lois watched her shows—Helen never watched TV. Then Helen would clean the vegetables for dinner and Lois would cook. In the evening, they’d read before bed. One night before they turned in, a storm knocked out the power. Everything was pitch-black, and Lois began to panic. “What should we do?” she cried. Helen just smiled and kept reading. Why did Helen stay calm while her sister did not?
Helen was blind.
Here are 35 medical trivia questions only geniuses will get right.
Brain Game #20: Jake loves steak; Trish loves fish
Jacob enjoys steak so much that the probability that he’ll have it for dinner on any given evening is one in three. The favourite dish of his wife, Patricia, is fresh fish. The probability that she’ll have it for dinner on any given evening is one in two. Because Jacob and Patricia always dine together, they’ll never have steak and fish on the same night. On average, how many times in a 30-day month will they be having either steak or fish?
Find out the healthiest fish you can eat .
Brain Game #21: Changelings
Each of the three lines of letters below spells the name of a fruit, but four letters from the first word are in the third line, four letters from the third word are in the second line, and four letters from the second word are in the first line. What are the words?
Watermelon Clementine Cantaloupe
Can you pass this quiz of fourth grade spelling words ?
Brain Game #22: Net Worth
Tamara has $20,000 saved up. If four-fifths of what Tamara has equals eight-ninths of what Martina has, how much money does Martina have?
Can you name these famous Canadian heroes ?
Brain Game #23: Sum-Thing Special
Each letter from A through H has one of the eight values listed below, and no two letters have the same value. Which number goes with which letter to make all the equations true?
A = 6, b = 13, c = 1, d = 7, e = 16, f = 3, g = 5, h = 10
From daily crosswords to math puzzles, you’ll find hours of (free!) online fun on our Reader’s Digest Games channel.
Brain Game #24: Jerry Mander Strikes Again
Your name is Jerry Mander, and you must draw your town’s voting districts so that George Greene becomes dogcatcher rather than Barbara Blue. To do that, Greene must win the majority of the city’s five voting districts. Each district comprises three households. This map shows how each of the town’s 15 households will vote (the tree represents a park that’s not in any district). The catch: The three households in each district must share at least one border with at least one other household in the district. Can you draw the five districts in a way that guarantees Greene defeats Blue?
If you enjoyed these brain games, see if you can pass our great Canadian trivia quiz.
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10 Best Brain Games to Keep Your Mind Sharp
Brain-Training Games for Adults, Kids, and Seniors
Mark Stibich, PhD, FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements.
Aaron Johnson is a fact checker and expert on qualitative research design and methodology.
From pen-and-paper Sudoku and crosswords to specialized brain training apps, options for brain games are plentiful.
Benefits of Playing Brain-Training Games
People of all ages use brain-training games to improve mental functioning and prevent brain aging . Backing them up is research showing that brain-training games may help improve attention levels, memory , response time, logic skills, and other measures of cognitive function if played over a long timespan .
To give your brain a workout while having fun, try these games and activities that may improve your mental focus and fitness.
Sudoku is a number placement game that relies on short-term memory. To complete a Sudoku puzzle, you have to look ahead and follow trails of consequences—if you put a 6 in this box, that one must be an 8 and this one a 4, and so on. This type of planning helps improve short-term memory and concentration.
You can play Sudoku online, on an app, or on paper. Look for a regular Sudoku in your newspaper, buy a book with a collection of puzzles, or download a free app for your phone or tablet.
Sudoku puzzles are available in varying degrees of difficulty. When you're starting out, play the easy games until you learn the rules. If you're playing on paper, use a pencil!
Lumosity is one of the most established brain training and mental fitness programs. You can sign up for a free account to play three games per day, or choose the subscription service for more offerings. Either way, you can keep track of your results and improvement.
Lumosity's fun brain training and mental fitness games, tests, and activities are backed by science. You can play them on the website, or download the free apps for iOS and Android. Lumosity also has a meditation and mindfulness app called Lumosity Mind.
Crosswords are a classic brain trainer, accessing not only verbal language but memory from many dimensions of knowledge. There are many ways to do crossword puzzles, both online and off. If you receive a daily newspaper, you'll almost always get a crossword there. Or pick up a book of crosswords specifically suited to your skill level and interests.
You will also find many options for crossword puzzles online or via free or inexpensive apps. The AARP website offers a daily crossword that's free to everyone, whether or not you're a member of the group.
You'll need to download an app to play Elevate 's 35 (and counting) different brain training games, which have a strongly educational feel. It's free (with in-app purchases) and both iOS and Android versions have tens of thousands of five-star reviews.
Elevate's games center on reading, writing, speaking, and math, and you can customize your training to focus on whichever areas you prefer. As with most other brain games, you can track your progress to see how your skills are improving.
Peak is another app-only option (available for iOS and Android) that provides brain games to help you work on focus, memory, problem-solving, mental agility, and more cognitive functions. If you're a competitive person, you might be motivated by seeing how you perform against other users. The app is free to use, but an inexpensive subscription unlocks more features.
Happy Neuron divides its games and activities into five critical brain areas: memory, attention, language, executive functions, and visual/spatial. Like Lumosity, it personalizes the training to fit you, tracks your progress, and the games are based on scientific research.
You must pay a monthly subscription fee to use the site, and its simplified app version is available for Android users only. Happy Neuron does, however, offer a free trial offer so you can see if you like the approach.
Claiming to have the world's largest collection of brain teasers, Braingle's free website provides more than 15,000 puzzles, games, and other brain teasers as well as an online community of enthusiasts. You can even create your own puzzles to give your brain a super workout. Braingle has a wide variety of offerings, including optical illusions, codes and ciphers, and trivia quizzes.
Queendom has thousands of personality tests and surveys. It also has an extensive collection of "brain tools"—including logic, verbal, spatial, and math puzzles; trivia quizzes; and aptitude tests—for you to exercise and test your brain. If you'd like to save results and scores, you'll need a free account. Some tests give you only snapshot results for free, and charge a fee for full reports.
Brain Age Concentration Training
Brain Age Concentration Training is a brain training and mental fitness system for the Nintendo 3DS system. It includes a huge number of games to hone your concentration, memory, calculation, and other brain skills. It's fun, portable, and challenging. Brain Age is also available for the Nintendo Wii U, but not for the Switch, Nintendo's most up-to-date gaming system.
This web-based puzzle game from The New York Times exploded in popularity in early 2022 and now counts millions of users worldwide. The premise is simple: Users get six tries to guess a five-letter word. Wordle's combination of problem-solving challenges and easy-to-use interface makes for a satisfying mental workout.
Al-Thaqib A, Al-Sultan F, Al-Zahrani A, et al. Brain training games enhance cognitive function in healthy subjects . Med Sci Monit Basic Res . 2018;24:63-69. doi:10.12659%2FMSMBR.909022
Hampshire A, Sandrone S, Hellyer PJ. A large-scale, cross-sectional investigation into the efficacy of brain training . Front Hum Neurosci . 2019;13:221. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00221
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Problem Solving Games, Activities & Exercises for Adults
Here is our list of the best problem solving games, activities and exercises for adults.
Problem solving games are activities that require players to use critical thinking skills to solve puzzles. Example activities include escape rooms, Sudoku, and murder mysteries. The purpose of these exercises is to sharpen reasoning and decision-making skills in group settings and to do team building with employees.
These activities are a subset of remote team games , found in problem solving books , and are similar to team puzzles , team building brain teasers and team riddles .
This article contains:
- team building problem solving activities for employees
- free problem solving games for adults
- virtual problem solving activities for students
- group problem solving activities
- problem solving team builders
Here we go!
List of problem solving games & activities
From word and number puzzles to role-playing games, here is a list of inexpensive and free problem solving games that help groups practice the art of critical thinking and compromise.
Sudoku is a popular puzzle game. The objective of this game is to fill each box of a 9×9 grid so that every row, column, and letter contains each number from one to nine. The puzzle makes a great team challenge. To play Sudoku on Zoom, screen share the game board. Then, turn on the annotation features. Using the add text functions, participants can fill in the numbers on the grid.
We made a starter puzzle you can use in your next meeting or virtual team bonding session:
Here are more online Sudoku puzzles .
2. Art Heist
Art Heist is a fully facilitated virtual sleuthing game for team building. The event format is similar to a murder mystery, minus the murder. In this interactive tale, teams race to crack the case and figure out which fictional museum employee stole a priceless Van Gogh masterpiece. For 90 minutes, teams compete for clues in mini-games like spot the difference, jigsaw puzzles, riddles, and trivia. The more challenges won, the more hints received, and the easier to solve the case at the end of the game.
Learn more about Art Heist .
3. Crossword puzzles
Crossword puzzles are word games that ask players to fill in words based on clues. Words interconnect, and players must think critically about the surrounding words to select the right phrase for the space.
You can use an online crossword puzzle maker to create a custom puzzle. Here are a few themes you may want to consider:
- teammates’ tastes and interests
- company knowledge and history
- industry terms and trends
Or, create a miscellaneous puzzle just for fun.
We made a sample puzzle you can use for your game:
To complete puzzles during online meetings, you can use the share screen function and add text through annotations.
Or, subscribers can play the New York Times’ daily crossword puzzle virtually . Dictionary.com also offers a free daily online crossword puzzle .
Check out more vocabulary games .
4. Online Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are timed games that get groups working together to solve puzzles. Traditionally, players enter a locked room and must complete all puzzles in an hour or two to unlock the door. However, groups can also play escape rooms online.
Digital escape rooms typically come in one of two forms: in a Zoom room and led by a host, or in a choose-your-own adventure format via Google Forms or websites. To play escape rooms virtually, enter a video meeting and follow the prompts, or screen share the Google Form and work out the puzzles together.
Check out our full list of online escape rooms .
5. Murder Mysteries
Murder Mysteries are story-based games that ask players to take on the roles of suspects or detectives while trying to identify a killer. These games often involve reading lines from a script, searching for clues, and occasionally solving puzzles to get hints.
These games make participants pay attention to conversations, analyze other characters’ behavior, and search for hidden meaning in the script. Players must use their powers of observation and logic to unravel the mystery.
Check out our list of Zoom murder mystery games .
6. Treasure Hunts
Treasure hunts are scavenger hunts with intention. While virtual scavenger hunts often ask players to collect random items, treasure hunts require participants to locate clues that lead to other prompts and hints. The game typically ends with players finding a treasure or solving a mystery, sometimes both.
The treasure hunt can have a specific theme such as secret agent missions or a hunt for pirate treasure, or you can run a more general hunt. Teammates can either compete simultaneously via Zoom call, or can play the hunt on an app individually and compete to beat each other’s scores.
Check out our list of treasure hunt apps .
7. War of the Wizards
War of the Wizards is a fully-facilitated 90 minute virtual team building event. Teams roleplay as minions of powerful wizards to vanquish forces of evil. A host guides the groups through a series of puzzles and mini-games in a quest-style adventure. Players must overcome obstacles through the power of teamwork and imagination. War of the Wizards is a test of diplomacy and resourcefulness, not to mention a way to geek out with remote colleagues.
Learn more about War of the Wizards .
8. Poem or story challenge
Most problem solving activities for groups revolve around science, math, and logic. Poem/story challenges rely on writing skills, and are sure to appeal to the language lovers on your team.
Each player receives a limited wordbank to use to create a story or poem. Then, players have a few minutes to craft their pieces. Afterwards, everyone reads out or screen shares their creations.
Here are a few word challenge activities you can do remotely:
- Found poems or stories : Participants make poems or stories out of words they find by visiting websites, searching emails, glancing out the window, or taking a walk or drive around the neighborhood.
- Random word generators : Teammates use a random word generator to populate a word bank, and must use each word in the poem or story.
- Poetry magnets : Group members make poems using poetry magnets. You can send poetry magnet sets to employees and assemble the verses on a cookie pan during a Zoom call. Or, teammates can play with poetry magnets online .
- Page poems: Participants receive one page of a book or magazine, and must make a poem or story by blocking out other words so only the chosen text remains visible. This activity is part storytelling, part art, since story crafters can illustrate the pages as part of the design.
- Ransom note stories or poems : Players cut out letters from magazines and must form new words to make poems and stories. Or, players can receive a mix of random letters, form words, and run the text through a ransom note generator .
These activities are suitable for teams and individual players.
9. Moral challenge
Some problems are ethical rather than factual. Moral judgment plays just as important a role in the decision-making process as technical prowess. Players can flex their moral problem-solving skills by tackling ethical dilemmas or social puzzles.
Here are some social problem solving games online:
- Moral machine
- Scruples – the game of moral dilemmas
- Morality play
To play these games, either download the apps, or pull up the website and then screen share the prompts. These games are best played when discussed as a group, because the more belief systems and opinions, the harder an issue is to resolve. These exercises provide practice for real-life conflict resolution.
You can find similar challenges on our list of online personality tests .
Frostbite is a group game that hones team leaders’ communication skills while sharpening teammates’ listening and cooperation skills. The premise behind the game is that a group of explorers gets caught in a snowstorm and must build a shelter. Frostbite has paralyzed the leaders’ hands and snow-blinded the rest of the team. The leader must give the team instructions to build a tent that can resist arctic winds.
To play Frostbite, each teammate wears a blindfold. Then, the leader gives directions. Once the structures are complete, players turn on a fan to test whether tents can withstand the wind.
Frostbite is usually an in-person game, however you can also play virtually. In the remote version of the game, teammates construct tents out of cards and tape, while the leader surveys the scene on screen.
This exercise demonstrates the challenges of leading remotely, as teams need to operate with minimal oversight or supervisor observation. Therefore, instructions need to be clear and direct to be effective.
Check out more team building games .
11. Virtual Hackathons
Hackathons are events where participants have a set amount of time to design and pitch a new product or solution. This type of event originated in the programming world and is often used to create new apps, however you can apply the game to any industry or school subject.
Virtual hackathons are online versions of the event. Teams enter the competition, then work with each other via virtual meeting software or remote work communication platforms to design the solution. At the end of the competition, teams pitch ideas to a panel of judges and a winner is decided.
To run a virtual hackathon, first announce the theme of the event and collect sign-ups. So that no teams work ahead, hint at the general idea of the issue, and only explain the precise problem when the event begins. Then, give teams anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete the project.
Discover more virtual hackathon ideas .
12. Improv games
Improv games are excellent problem solving activities. These exercises force participants to think and respond quickly to keep scenes moving in a logical and entertaining way.
Here are some good problem solving improv games:
Banned words : Performers cannot say certain words. Scene partners will conceive of situations that encourage the actors to use those words, and the actors must find alternatives, such as using synonyms or taking the scene in a new direction.
Scenes from a chat : Audience gives a suggestion for a scene, and players act the scene out. Though it’s a fictional and often ridiculous scenario, actors must react to the situation and solve the problem in order for the scene to end.
Miracle cure : Miracle cure is a quick-moving exercise that follows a simple format. One player declares, “I have a problem.” Another player responds, “I have a….[random object.]” The first player then replies, “great! I can use the [random object] to….” and describes how they will solve the problem.
Check out more problem-solving improv games .
13. Spaghetti Tower
The spaghetti tower is a classic team building game. Participants gather uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, and must construct the tallest freestanding tower.
During the in-person version, players must construct one tall freestanding tower. However, for the virtual version of the game, players construct individual towers. You can send groups to breakout rooms for the build, then reconvene in the main room for judging. Teams are judged on three main factors: number of towers, height, and uniformity.
This version of the game not only tests the structural integrity of the tower, but also consistency and quality control. This exercise teaches teams to align and collaborate remotely, and produce a consistent product even when far apart.
14. What Would You Do?
What Would You Do? is a simple situational game that challenges participants to react to different circumstances. To play this game, read prompts one by one, and then ask participants to respond with gameplans. You can use the polling or raise hand feature to vote for the best option.
Here are some problem solving scenarios for adults or kids to use in the game:
- Zombies attack and you have to find a place to hide.
- You are at the zoo and the animals escape. Which one do you try to corral back into the pen first?
- After waiting in line for hours, someone cuts in front of you last minute. The person appears to be visually and hearing impaired, and doesn’t notice your protests. An official announces that due to diminishing supply, this individual will be the last in line to be served.
- You are eating a meal with important clients and/or your partner’s parents, and you want to impress. The individuals make you a dish that does not fit within your dietary restrictions, but you do not speak the same language and cannot explain why you do not want to eat.
- An imposter has infiltrated the organization, who looks, speaks, and behaves exactly like you. How do you convince your peers that you are the original?
For similar dilemmas, check out this list of Would You Rather? questions.
15. Desert Island Survival
Desert Island Survival is a game that challenges players to prioritize. The premise is that players have been stranded on an island, and must decide what order to perform survival steps.
Here are the possible actions:
- Set up shelter
- Explore the island
- Try to signal for help
- Make weapons for self-defense
- Build a raft to escape the island
- Start a fire
- Choose a group leader
- Search for other survivors
All group members must agree on the order of the steps. Players should explain the reasoning for the order of each step while ranking the actions.
Another version of the game involves players receiving a list of 15 to 20 items, and selecting five or so to bring to the island. You can also vary the location of the game, substituting remote islands for destinations like outer space or the distant past.
16. Choose Your Own Adventure
Choose Your Own Adventure stories enable readers to determine the outcome of the story by making decisions. Each action has a consequence that takes the tale in a different direction. Participants can try to guess how the story may unfold by talking through the different choices. When completing the activity in a group setting, the majority of the team must agree on an action before moving forward in the story.
There are a few ways to facilitate these activities online:
- Play an online role playing video game
- Watch an interactive movie like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
- Read from a Choose Your Own Adventure book on Zoom
- Click through a Choose Your Own Adventure platform
- Create your own story using a Google Form
Whichever way you choose to do the exercise, you can use the screen share feature in your virtual meeting software so that listeners can more easily follow along.
MacGyver is a show where the hero escapes sticky situations by improvising tools out of unlikely materials. For example, in one episode the hero makes a telescope out of a newspaper, magnifying lens, and a watch crystal.
To play MacGyver, you can either list three to five objects participants can use, or challenge players to use items that are within arms reach.
Simply state a desired end result, such as “a way to open a locked door,” or “a getaway vehicle,” and then ask teams to explain what they will build and how they will build it. To make the activity more collaborative, you can give teams five or ten minutes in breakout rooms to strategize and design a prototype.
18. Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons is a roleplaying game where players pretend to be magical figures and creatures. One player serves as the dungeon master, who guides the game, while the other players pick characters and make decisions to move the story forward. Upon choosing a course of action, players roll a twenty-sided die to determine whether or not the plan succeeds. The game is story-based, the possibilities are nearly limitless, and truly creative problem solving options arise. Also, since gameplay is mostly verbal, Dungeons & Dragons is an easy activity to do over Zoom.
Here are the basic rules for Dungeons & Dragons .
Pandemic is a game that pits players against the forces of nature in a race to contain and control disease outbreaks. At the beginning of the game, each player receives a role such as containment specialist or operations expert. Participants must carry out the duties of their roles by choosing appropriate actions. Pandemic is a great game for groups because each team member has a clear part to play, and players must collaborate and work together instead of competing against each other.
To play the game online, you can use a Pandemic game app , or talk through the exercise while one attendee moves and displays pieces on the board.
Note: The subject of this game might hit too close to home for some players, considering recent history. You can find games with similar mechanics that deal with different subject matter, such as Forbidden Island.
Check out more team building board games .
20. Model UN
Model UN is one of the best virtual problem solving activities for students. This exercise casts participants in the role of international diplomats who must negotiate to solve realistic problems. Each player assumes the role of a country ambassador and must form alliances and propose solutions to solve crises.
Here are some sample Model UN scenarios:
- Human rights violation by powerful country
- Food shortage
- Disease epidemic
- Technology privacy violations
- Civil war branching into surrounding countries
- Natural disasters
Depending on the size of the group, participants either take on the part of an entire government of a country, or play a certain role within the government. To carry out the activity on Zoom, players can take turns giving speeches, message other countries privately via the chat, meet in breakout rooms to form alliances or have more intimate discussions, and use the polling feature to vote on propositions.
If politics does not resonate with your group, then you can alter the exercise by applying the same activity structure to a different theme, such as the Justice League, movie characters, business board members, or reality TV stars.
The main purpose of the exercise is to research, talk through problems, and compromise. As long as these elements are present, then the specifics of the setup do not matter.
There are many types of problem solving activities for adults. You can do online problem solving games, which require a different skill set than in-person problem solving. For instance, communication must be much clearer and more abundant when group members are far apart and unable to demonstrate or pick up physical cues.
Though many problem solving games include props and in-person elements, there are many games you can play together online. These exercises work well as educational tools as well as team bonding accelerators. Upon completion, participants are likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence. These games are also great practice for real life conflict resolution, creative thinking and team building.
Next check out this list of connection games , and this post with conflict resolution games .
We also have a list of the best decision making books and a list of team building problems for work .
FAQ: Problem solving activities
Here are common answers to questions about group problem solving activities.
What are problem solving games?
Problem solving games are challenges that ask players to think critically and use logic to overcome issues or answer riddles. Examples include sudoku, murder mysteries, and spaghetti towers. These games are also known as “problem solving exercises”, “problem and solution games” and “group problem solving activities.”
What are the best problem solving games for groups?
The best problem solving games for groups include online escape rooms, moral challenges, and improv games.
What are some good problem solving team building activities for students?
Some good problem solving activities for students include crossword puzzles, choose your own adventure stories, and model UN.
How do you play problem solving games online?
The best way to play problem solving games online is to join a video call meeting to talk through the issue. Using the screen sharing and digital whiteboard features helps participants visualize the problem more clearly. Breakout rooms give teams the chance to discuss the issue more intimately.
Author: Angela Robinson
Content Expert at teambuilding.com. Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.
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20 Best Brain Games for Adults (Online & Offline)
Anthony Metivier | December 19, 2022 | Thinking
Maybe you have a parent or loved one who is at high risk for a disease like Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Or maybe you’ve heard the statistics about aging and cognitive decline.
For example, did you know that just over 40% of the world’s population is between the ages of 25-54? That another 18% is over the age of 55?
And several studies within the past fifteen years estimate that somewhere between 11-13% of older Americans have dementia.
So how do you avoid cognitive decline? What can you do to protect your brain?
According to both the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and Alzheimer’s Association, there are a few key things you can do to maintain brain health as you age:
- Stay physically active: exercise and physical activity maintains proper blood flow to the brain and encourages the formation of new brain cells through neurogenesis.
- Eat for brain health: eating a healthy diet full of antioxidants (leafy green vegetables and fruits, for example) may help protect existing brain cells.
- Stay mentally and socially active: be active in your community to help avoid depression and isolation, and get regular brain exercise (especially learning new tasks) to help you maintain cognitive function.
So what are some of the best ways to stay mentally active? Enter brain games for adults .
Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch. >>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer .
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Why Brain Games For Adults? 20 Best Brain Games for Adults (by Category) Games and Puzzles (Online) Games and Puzzles (Offline) Brain Training Apps Video and Computer Games Fun and Games for the Brain
Why Brain Games For Adults?
You’ve probably seen advertising from different companies, claiming their games or brain training apps are the best way to keep your brain healthy as you get older.
Turns out, scientists are divided about the legitimacy of those claims.
In 2014, two opposing groups of scientists came out with letters arguing 1) no scientific basis for the efficacy of brain training — and 2) evidence for the “brain training effect” was plentiful .
So if even large groups of scientists can’t agree, how do we know if brain games can help you keep your gray matter fully functional?
As I researched this post, what I found over and over is this: brain training games may be effective, but so are other cognitive pursuits .
The key to maintaining brain health as you age is to consistently learn new things.
Games for the brain can be a fun (and effective) way to keep your brain engaged. So let’s look at the best brain training games, what makes them great, and how you can even get some of these brain training games for free.
We’ll break them all down into categories, including both online and offline games, as well as our favorite brain training apps (and a few video games, too).
20 Best Brain Games for Adults (by Category)
If you want to be the next Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein, brain training games and memory improvement games won’t get you there.
However, when it comes to keeping your brain healthy as you age, mixing and matching the following games could be just the ticket.
When the game gets easy, switch to learning how to play something new — and keep your brain healthy and your memory sharp.
Let’s start with the games and puzzles you’re most likely to find online.
Games and Puzzles (Online)
The following games and puzzles can help boost your working memory. They often involve thinking a step or two (or more) ahead to your next move.
Sudoku is one of the most popular brain training games online. It’s available through a number of different sites, including both Web Sudoku and Sudoku.com (which both have iOS and Android apps available).
It’s also available at the New York Times , USAToday , The Washington Post , and The Los Angeles Times .
KenKen calls itself “puzzles that make you smarter.” Their site includes free online puzzles, as well as math and number games.
These free puzzles are available through the KenKen website , iOS and Kindle apps, and as part of the New York Times puzzle page .
Tricky Test 2™: Genius Brain?
Tricky Test 2™ is a free IQ game that challenges you to find out if you have a “genius brain.”
It includes a series of brain teasers and solutions designed to trick you — these puzzles are available through both the App Store and Google Play .
Left vs Right: Brain Games for Brain Training
Left vs Right was designed to “test your awareness, adaptability, reflex, reasoning, precision, and patience.”
Free brain training games are included to help you test your brain — and the app is available through Google Play , the App Store , and Amazon. While the app is free, in-app purchases are offered, including a VIP subscription option allowing you to access all 49 of the games.
A Clockwork Brain
A Clockwork Brain is a “series of fun and challenging games, specifically designed to test memory, attention, dexterity, language, and reasoning.”
Each of the puzzles features adaptive difficulty to keep your brain engaged, and is available in the App Store and Google Play , as well as through the Microsoft Store .
Next, let’s look at some classic forms of brain training that are available in the physical world.
Brain Games for Adults (Offline)
While there are options to play most of these types of games and puzzles online or on your device, you might want to stick to the traditional forms.
Why? Because the social aspect of the games makes them more powerful — by getting together with a friend (or a few) you can boost the brain-health factor.
Let’s start with a classic game for brainy people.
When you think of mentally challenging and complex games, chess is probably one of the first that comes to mind. Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer, (and even Deep Blue)… some of the greatest players of all time prove that chess is a game of strategy and concentration.
The game of chess helps train your working memory and improves your brain’s executive function as you plan and strategize. It also improves fast decision-making, while honing your concentration .
When it comes to minimizing cognitive decline, crosswords have been declared the go-to solution. These puzzles contribute to the development of memory and attention skills, as well as increased fluency (the ability to find words).
Like all the games and puzzles we’ll cover today, if the puzzles start feeling too easy it’s probably time to switch to another brainy pursuit. For example, if you usually play American crosswords you might try switching over to the British style (specifically their “cryptic crosswords”) to test your true riddle- and puzzle-solving skills.
No matter their difficulty level, crosswords are known to encourage cheating — but if you cheat you’re not getting the brain exercise you think you are!
Want to engage your short-term memory ? Jigsaw puzzles might be just the ticket. Your brain has to sort out the multiple colors and shapes — and the more pieces the puzzle contains, the harder your brain has to work. You even get a hit of dopamine when you click a puzzle piece into the correct slot.
To add a different kind of challenge to your puzzle assembling, flip over the pieces and try to solve the puzzle without any of the design clues.
Matching Pairs Card Games
There are virtually endless ways to play this game, including many online versions (including tile-matching games like Mahjong). Whatever variation you choose, the aim is to match as many pairs as quickly as you can — lay any number of cards face down, flip over two at a time, and try to remember where the matches are.
While most games keep the cards in neat rows, you can make the game more challenging by spreading out the cards in a less organized arrangement.
And for another level boost, here are 13 reasons you need a system for remembering cards . Just imagine the brain fitness you’ll get when you can remember the order of 52 cards after shuffling a deck!
Playing Scrabble is a great way to learn new vocabulary and improve focus and strategic thinking. Some of the best players develop a keen ability to find the anagrams amidst a jumble of letters.
A 2016 study showed that Scrabble experts often use the parts of their brain associated with visual perception and working memory. So if you get good enough at the game, you’ll be able to tap into different areas of your brain while you play.
But what about apps that were specifically designed to provide “brain training” — are they everything they claim to be?
Brain Training Apps
Turns out, maybe not.
In 2016, Lumosity paid $2 million to settle deceptive advertising charges. It was alleged that “they deceived consumers with unfounded claims that Lumosity games can help users perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions.”
Be advised that Christine Till’s research has shown that without also having regular meetings with a coach, software programs like these have limited outcomes .
No single app or game is the magic bullet for reversing cognitive decline. But the following apps, when paired with other learning games and puzzles, just might help keep your brain engaged as you age.
Post-FTC charges, Lumosity now claims to offer “daily exercise for your mind.” Their brain training helps sharpen memory, attention, mental flexibility, processing speed, and problem-solving.
Lumosity has been around for 10 years and boasts 100 million members. They offer a desktop version of the app, as well as App Store and Google Play versions.
Originally a language-learning and SAT preparation app, Elevate now calls itself a “new type of cognitive training tool designed to build communication and analytical skills .”
It includes over 35 personalized games with unlimited access, including memory games for adults. The app is available through both the App Store and Google Play .
CogniFit Brain Fitness
CogniFit includes both neuropsychological assessments and brain training programs. The assessments include 23 separate cognitive skills, and their training programs use a patented methodology that allows them to set an “optimal sequence of brain games specifically for the user.”
There are training programs specific to ages 55 and over, stroke , Parkinson’s, and more. There is a free version, as well as a paid version ($19.99 per month for unlimited training programs), and CogniFit is available through both the App Store and Google Play .
Peak Brain Training
The more than 35 brain games available through Peak Brain Training focus on areas like memory, attention, math, problem-solving, mental agility, language, coordination, and emotional control. They are designed around short, intense mental workouts that are based on research from Cambridge, Yale, UCL and King’s College London.
You can also invest in Peak Pro, which gets you “dozens of tailored workouts, insightful analysis of your performance to help you go further, and access to the complete catalog of more than 40 games and activities.” Peak is available through both the App Store and Google Play .
Mensa Brain Training
And last but certainly not least, the high IQ society Mensa offers exercises to help you improve your reasoning , concentration, memory, agility, and perception. Mensa claims that regular brain training can significantly enhance fluid intelligence .
Their training program includes “challenging exercises developed by puzzle experts and accredited by the definitive high IQ society.” Available on the App Store .
What might surprise you is that one of the strongest competitors in the brain training market is actually… video games.
Video and Computer Games
When you hear discussions about the impact of video games, it’s usually in relation to violence and negative impacts. But did you know video games can be very helpful for boosting cognitive function?
Particular types of video games can have positive benefits on the brain. Action games can help improve your ability to make quick decisions or focus on an important object. And racing games help improve eye-hand coordination.
There is even a 2018 study that looked at the benefits of cognitive and emotional training in healthy adults.
Nintendo Brain Age: Concentration Training
Brain Age is a puzzle video game for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was designed to stimulate and improve players’ working memory and concentration, and based on the work of Ryuta Kawashima, a Japanese neuroscientist.
The games range from math problems to card matching — and adjust dynamically based on your real-time results.
Super Mario 64
Playing three-dimensional video games like Super Mario 64 improves both spatial memory and recognition ability, according to a 2017 study . The game encourages exploration within the 15 worlds of the game, where the player encounters obstacle courses, hidden objects, and puzzles… as well as the enemies Mario must confront.
3D games might help stave off mild cognitive impairment, due to increases in gray matter volume in both the hippocampus and cerebellum.
Even though Nintendo discontinued this gaming system back in 2013, there are still great reasons to track down a used Wii on eBay or another online marketplace. While you’re at it, be sure to grab Wii Sports to go with it.
Combining physical activity and social engagement with your video gaming makes for the perfect combination of brain-boosting activity.
Since 1984, Tetris has been challenging the brains of video game lovers. Much like the real world around us, the game “challenges players to make order out of chaos using a specific organization system.”
The makers coined the Tetris® Effect — where people who are packing their cars, loading their dishwashers, or organizing their shelves think strategically about how to fit each object into the available space.
Earlier studies seem to indicate that playing the game results in a thicker cortex in the brain, and helps improve brain efficiency. It has even been hypothesized that playing Tetris has positive results for certain spatial skills like mental rotation, spatial perception, and spatial visualization.
World of Warcraft
You might be surprised to see the world’s most popular role-playing game listed among our recommendations, but researchers at North Carolina State University found cognitive improvements among seniors who participated in the study.
You can try World of Warcraft free with their Starter Edition, which allows you to play up to level 20, or to subscribe for access to further levels.
With the 20 games, puzzles, and apps in this article, you have plenty to keep you (and your brain) busy.
Brain Games for Adults Are Fun
Getting older doesn’t have to mean you settle for cognitive decline and eventual dementia. In fact, if you use what you learned in this article, you now know 20 more ways to keep your brain active as you age… and have some fun along the way.
As long as you stay physically active, eat for brain health, and stay mentally and socially active, you can keep your brain engaged and healthy for the long run. And if you’re ever worried and wondering if you have dementia, you can always take memory tests doctors use to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
But do remember: at the end of the day, time spent on brain training games always incurs a cost.
In my own tests using the Memory Palace technique for the ultimate brain workout , I’ve found that Tetris is better than, say, Fishdom. This conclusion might be purely anecdotal, but it could give you a metric for making your own decisions.
When I play Tetris, after the game ends, I’m done. But when I play Fishdom, I sometimes have this part of my brain that is still lining up seashells and exploding bombs. It’s not really something I want coming up in my awareness like that.
Tetris might not have this effect due to the nature of the game involving solving pieces so that they disappear without explosions.
By the same token, it’s not clear to me how to use Fishdom as a Memory Palace. Tetris, on the other hand, has a fixed screen that can be readily used for memorizing a small amount of information.
Either way, they both allow for a little bit of entertainment while diffuse thinking takes place with some brain exercise.
I personally don’t think either compare to the fun of using a Memory Palace. That’s why if you want to keep learning new things (perhaps a new language ?) you’ll also need to improve your memory skills to help you hang on to that new vocabulary.
The Memory Palace technique is actually the ultimate brain game because every time you learn, you win something far more valuable than points. You win knowledge that will soon turn into wisdom. And wisdom is the ultimate engine of engagement that lasts.
This is really the best brain game for adults. I dare you to prove me wrong. Game on!
Here are four more brain games for adults, ones you complete mostly inside your mind:
Also check out:
3 Memory Games You Can Play With Your Childhood
3 Effective Brain Training Exercises For Mental Illness Sufferers
11 Empowering Things About Memory You Probably Do Not Know
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Last modified: December 19, 2022
About the Author / Anthony Metivier
4 Responses to " 20 Best Brain Games for Adults (Online & Offline) "
To “play the game for what counts” is good advice that I will remember!
Thanks for the insight,
Thanks for this post, Tom. I’m glad that this insight struck a chord! 🙂
I believe training root function such as visual processing speed, n-back challenges and meditation do show positive results. There’s an app that targets root function over specific skills and this generalises across applications. What is clear in playing these games is that threshold training is important in order to stimulate the brain to change. I’ve also found Harry Kahne’s Multiple Mentality course (free online) to be beneficial since it appears to ramp up brain band width. It’s very tough though.
So whilst I agree that games that focus on maths will not generalise, games that focus on spatial awareness, visual processing, facial recognition and sound recognition will. See the work of Dr Michael Merzenich. Many of the games on the market cite his studies yet don’t use the same training methodology to focus on root function.
Very few skills improve function across domains. If you play chess, you get better at chess. I don’t believe there’s much non domain improvement and it doesn’t improve GF.
Whilst I don’t believe mnemonics in of themselves have been shown to improve GF they certainly can improve the rate and speed at which we can remember data, which gives the appearance at least of greater intelligence.
With respect to language learning specifically, it’s my understanding that once one non native language has been learned the brain adapts its algorithm to make subsequent language learning more efficient. Language learning is tough, which gives a dopamine spike, which is why people can become quite addicted to language learning. It’s also a useful skill to have.
Thanks for this post. I found it interesting. I like your mnemonic and think history is particularly well suited to mnemonic devices. I generally find mnemonics make learning fun in any case.
Thanks for these great thoughts, Jon-Kristian!
It’s interesting that you mention Harry Kahne. What I find fascinating is his first exercise, which requests that you write out the alphabet backwards fifty times.
When I learned to do recite the alphabet backwards, it took precisely four minutes without writing down a single thing using keywords and a Memory Palace. I’ve never forgotten it and taught hundreds of people to do the same in similarly short periods of time.
The “Alphabet Skipping” variations are a little bit more challenging and takes longer to learn, but great brain games to be sure. I’ll have to mention them on a follow up podcast.
Thanks too for mentioning Michael Merzenich . I’m looking into his stuff now. Anything in particular you would suggest reading?
About mnemonics improving general brain functions, I think this is a matter of how we test them. For example, if mnemonics led to a measurable boost in fluency, then that would potentially lead to more social interaction, which exercises more of the brain. To take another example, abilities in math could lead to an interest in and aptitude for physics, which could then lead to other brain enhancing activities. In this way, we can perhaps see mnemonics as a “gateway drug” to bigger and better things. And as I hope I’ve suggested in the article, it’s a positive addiction that feeds itself because the more you learn, the more you can learn because you have a larger pool of associations from which to draw.
I’m glad you liked the post and mnemonics and I look forward to corresponding again soon! 🙂
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Brain Teasers, Puzzles and Games for Teens and Adults
It is always good to learn more about our brains and to exercise them! .
Fun teasers on how our brains and minds work:
2. You say you can count? Check out this brief attention experiment
3. Test your stress level
4. Guess: Are there more connections in one human brain or leaves in the whole Amazon?
Challenge your cognitive abilities with these brain teaser games:
5. Quick brain teasers to flex two key mental muscles
6. Count the Fs in this sentence
7. Can you identify Apple’s logo?
8. Ten classic optical illusions to trick your mind
9. What do you see?
10. Fun Mental Rotation challenge
11. What is going on with these pictures?
Language and logic mind teasers:
12. Which way is the bus heading ?
13. Where do words go?
14. Join this party for polyglots
15. Fun & Brainy Haikus . Yours?
A few visual workouts to challenge your mind:
16. Is a circle a circle?
17. Less obvious than it may appear
18. How many…
How’s your pattern recognition?
19. Proverbs to exercise your memory and reasoning
21. Good puzzle for the whole brain: The Blind Beggar
22. Find the the Really, Really, Really Big Number
Fun brain teasers for the workplace:
23. Please consider Linda ’s job prospects
24. A few guesstimations often used in consulting and tech interviews
25. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
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You may have heard that puzzles and other brain games sharpen your mind—boosting memory, attention span, thinking speed, creativity and problem-solving
Exercise your problem solving skills with our best brain games · Pirate Passage · Masterpiece · Organic Order · Fuse Clues · Pet Detective.
Besides, cracking brain teasers and puzzles helps you workout your analytical skills and develop right creativity for solving problems in
Subscribe to 7-Second Riddles: https://goo.gl/BZSTVhMusic: Epidemic Sound https://www.epidemicsound.com/Music: Youtube Library
Mind games ; Daily Crossword. Everyday a new crossword play to solve. ; Hangman. The classic Hangman word game: guess the word before the man hangs. ; Daily Word
Your brain isn't a muscle—in fact, it's mostly fat! · Brain Games to Give Your Grey Matter a Good Workout · Brain Game #1: Counting Digits · Answer #1 · Brain Game
Peak is another app-only option (available for iOS and Android) that provides brain games to help you work on focus, memory, problem-solving
Problem solving games are activities that require players to use critical thinking skills to solve puzzles. Example activities include escape
The more than 35 brain games available through Peak Brain Training focus on areas like memory, attention, math, problem-solving, mental agility
Fun teasers on how our brains and minds work: · Challenge your cognitive abilities with these brain teaser games: · Visual illusions: visual illusion of paralel