Fun Brain Teasers for Adults

woman putting a puzzle together

Your brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. While some brain activities can feel brutal, others are fun and leisurely. Brain teasers let you flex your gray matter in a number of ways, and are great to give your mind a workout while having fun at the same time.

The benefits of brain teasers are more varied than you might think. In addition to keeping your mind generally active, brain games can also work on fine-tuning specific cognitive processes. For example, brain teasers can aid in concentration, improve memory, and develop mental acuity and quickness. Brain teasers often force you to think outside the box, strengthening your capacity for creative problem solving and mental flexibility. There's even evidence that certain types of brain teaser games can delay the effects of aging on the mind.

What Happens As Your Brain Ages?

As you get older, your brain performance (along with other functions of your body), slowly declines. Your cognitive processes begin to slow down, and you may find that everyday tasks take you a bit longer to complete. Like working your muscles to keep you strong, it's important to exercise your brain. Luckily, with the help of brain teasers, you can actually:

  • Improve your cognitive functioning
  • Enhance memory
  • Boost overall brain activity
  • Improve concentration
  • Slow the decline and reduce the risk of dementia

Brain teaser puzzles come in several varieties. Each might put a different part of your brain to work, but one thing they all have in common is their ability to turn mental exercise into a fun and invigorating challenge.

Word Games

Words games make up a broad category that can include everything from multi-player games, like charades or Scrabble, to word puzzles and challenges for single players. Crossword puzzles test your vocabulary, while other types of word games test your sense of humor with puns or punchlines. Overall, these brain teasers are an easy favorite for those who love language and its nuances.

Number & Math Games

Brain teasers with a numbers component force you to flex your mathematical and numerical reasoning abilities. Some types of number puzzles, like Soduku, are fairly straightforward. Others, such as mathematical word problems, force you to translate verbal information into numerical structures or equations. For the dedicated puzzler, other types combine elements of logic along with math to create a truly brain-busting challenge.

Riddles & Logic Games

These are the types of mind puzzles that really make you think. Riddles pose what seem to be a simple question, but have a challenging answer. Sometimes, the answer is even hidden in plain sight! Like riddles, logic puzzles test your reasoning with scenarios that might seem straightforward at first but can be deceptively difficult to think through. Out of all the styles of brain teaser games, riddles and logic games are said to be the most rewarding.

10 Brain Teasers to Try

1. Family-Friendly Games

people playing a board game

Keeping your mind sharp doesn't have to be boring. Get family and friends involved and practice your strategic and fast thinking skills -- two critical components for keeping your mind strong. These fun games include:

  • Charades
  • Pictionary
  • Heads Up
  • Catch Phrase and Taboo
  • Boggle
  • Scrabble
  • Jigsaw Puzzles

2. Crosswords

pair of glasses on a crossword puzzle

Crosswords are a common type of brain teaser that challenges your mind to remember events, people, or even particular words. Although some argue that crosswords don't have a positive impact on the brain, others say that they teach you to have fluid intelligence, meaning that you have the ability to make your mind jump through hoops to solve problems. Beyond that, the satisfaction you feel when you complete a crossword is addicting.

Crosswords are typically available in most daily newspapers, crossword books, on free sites such as USA Today's daily crossword and on mobile apps like the NYTimes daily crossword.

Remember: as your skills develop, challenge yourself by increasing the puzzle difficulty or setting a time limit for completion.  

3. Sudoku

Sudoku is a fun game in which you insert numbers one through nine into a grid. The challenging part? Each number can only appear once in a horizontal line, vertical line, and square. Sudoku puzzles are a great way to stimulate your brain and encourage problem-solving analysis, allowing you to feel accomplished and perform better on other tasks later in the day. As with crosswords, you should increase difficulty as your skills increase and set time limits to keep you on your toes.

Find a Sudoku in your daily newspaper, dedicated Sudoku books, on free sites like Web Sudoku and even on mobile apps like Brainium.

4. Classic Logic Puzzles & Riddles

Whether you play by yourself or in a group, these brain teasers are always fun. If you can figure out the answer, you feel a sense of accomplishment. If you can't, you may feel frustrated when you figure out how simple the answer truly was, and you'll feel motivated to solve the next one. Try out a few different types of logic puzzles and short riddles on free sites like Fit Brains to find your favorite!

5. Card Games

hand on a deck of cards

According to Alzhemier's Research UK, playing cards is linked to larger brain volumes, better cognitive abilities and stronger memory. Beyond that, engaging in card games is a fun way to get together with friends and challenge each other. Some games you can play to boost your brain include:

  • Solitaire
  • Free Cell
  • Gin Rummy
  • Spades or Hearts

6. Rubik's Cube & Wooden Puzzles

rubiks cube

The infamous Rubik's Cube is a simple game, yet one that feels nearly impossible to solve. Created in Hungary in the 1970's, the Rubik's Cube has become one of the world's best-selling toys ever made. Play with it once, and you'll see why. This cube is made up of six sides, each containing nine squares. The object of the game is simple: twist and turn the cube until all the squares on every side match.

Wooden puzzles, usually in a cube or crazy shape, generally have the same idea. Simply maneuver the parts to create a specific shape. It's harder than it sounds!

7. Picture Puzzles

These brain teasers typically come in two forms: Spot the Difference and Hidden Objects. When you play Spot the Difference, you're analyzing two pictures side-by-side and trying to locate details that are slightly different. Hidden Objects shows you one image, and you have to find certain items or objects that are hidden within the picture. Both of these games are useful because they challenge your brain to look at things from a different perspective.

Test your skills:

8. Reaction Time Testers

These games aren't exactly brain teasers, but they help track your reflexes and brainpower. If you notice that your reactions are slowing down, you can test your impulse and boost your brain's processing speed by playing reaction time tester games. Look online to find reaction games you can try, starting with Daily Mail's reaction test.

9. Memory Testers

woman thinking holding pen

As you get older, some of your brain functions begin to drop. According to the American Psychological Association, the brain's volume peaks in your 20s and then gradually declines for the rest of life. To keep your brain sharp, start playing memory tester games weekly. Start with National Geographic's brain game which helps you link names to faces then try some of  The Huffington Post's brain games as a quick and easy way to sharpen your memory. Apps like Fit Brains Trainer also feature great memory testing exercises.

10. Other Great Brain Teasers

In today's fast-paced world, you can find fun and engaging brain teasers right at your fingertips. Download brain games on your mobile devices to strengthen your mind and test your memory, even when you're on the go.

Along with brain teaser games and apps, you can also keep your brain strong by:

  • Turning down your TV's volume. Active listening will put your brain to work.
  • Walk on bumpy surfaces (yes, this works!) to improve the vestibular system in your inner ear, helping your balance and equilibrium
  • Learn how to use your non-dominant hand
  • Memorize a song or poem

There are tons of brain games available to help keep your mind sharp and focused throughout the years. Try out different types of brain teasers to find your favorites and boost your overall brain activity, enhance your memory and concentration, and slow the risk of dementia, all while having fun. Get your friends and family in on the excitement to challenge their brains, too!

 

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Written by Ashford University staff.

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