Remember all those times when as a child, you were told that the video games you loved to play would melt your brain? Or that too much gaming would have a negative impact on your ability to function at school? Well, it turns out that those rather outlandish claims your parents made each time you fired up the Atari or Nintendo were nothing more than old wives’ tales of the modern era.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, scientists proved that video games are great for you. They help you learn, increase your cognitive abilities and even give the old creative muscles a boost. It seems the only thing they can’t do is take out the trash for you. We even discussed this at length in a previous post (minus the taking out the trash part!).

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Caption: Science says gaming is great for you!

So, now that we know it’s great for you, is it okay to play any game? Well, the truth is that all games offer advantages, but some offer a little more than others. Take, for example, a trivia game as opposed to Angry Birds. While both will exercise different parts of your brain, the trivia game might feel a tad more useful and fulfilling. Of course, this is dependent on the player in question, but you see what we mean. So, here are some of the best games for giving your brain a little boost every day.

Scrabble (iOS and Android)

It’s the game that everyone knows how to play, but surprisingly enough, most people have forgotten how much fun it is. Scrabble is the king of all word games, and don’t even try to argue with us on this one. Sure, there are plenty of pretenders to the throne out there, but let’s face it, they’re all copying the original.

The great thing about Scrabble is that it’s so rewarding. Whether you’re playing against the computer or another player, you get an incredible thrill when a few tiles placed in the correct order shows the world what a word-master you are. It’s a great vocabulary booster, and the nature of the game requires you to consistently exercise that little-used part of your brain that stores all those obscure English words you learned back in high school.

You’ll become a master of two-letter and three-letter words, especially those that start with high-scoring letters like X, Q and Z. Sure, those may be pretty much useless in real life, but the other words you come across will undoubtedly come in handy. As far as brain-boosting games go, this is the most obvious one to go for since scientists found that Scrabble players use more of their brain.

888Poker (iOS and Android)

Did you know that poker is a game that requires a high level of focus and no small amount of skill? Yes, it’s true, that game that you play at the kitchen table is one of the greatest brain-boosting games. But unfortunately, getting the guys (or girls) around for a game every evening is impossible. And this is where the 888Poker mobile app comes in.

Now, before we go any further, let’s dispel the myth that poker is only for serious players. Of course, if you want to win big at the tables, then it helps if you practice and learn some strategies, but poker and online poker, especially, is an inclusive game for players of all skill levels. On the 888Poker app, players can take advantage of games such as SNAP and BLAST. These games add a little bit of excitement to the whole poker experience.

SNAP allows players to fold and move tables without having to wait for their turn. This speeds up the game considerably especially for players that like to sit at multiple tables. BLAST is even more exciting as it involves a timer. Once the timer is done, everyone at the table is all-in! This forces players to think fast, speeding up their decision-making process which is of course a good thing.

But aside from the excitement and that fast decision-making process, what’s so great about poker? Well, the game encourages players to think strategically while also teaching them to react to unforeseen events and change plans accordingly. The truth is that the intellect required to play poker was underappreciated for many years, but in recent times, the world has come to realize that it takes plenty of smarts to succeed in the game. There have even been cases of poker pros being hired to work on Wall Street because of their ability to manage risks and consistently make the right calls. Brain-boosting and possibly improving your career chances? Why are you still waiting?

Chess (iOS and Android)

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Throughout time, it’s known as the thinking person’s game and with good reason. Chess, like poker, takes a great deal of strategic thinking, with players often thinking ahead the next four or five moves. Proven to have considerable benefits, this level of brain activity is another obvious one to add to our list.

For this game, we’re not going to recommend an app as there are hundreds of choices available in both the App Store and on Google Play. You can choose one based on the user interface, the cost or the ability to play online, but whatever you pick, make sure that it has supporting video tutorials on the app website. Once you get the chess bug, you’ll want to improve your skills, and having tutorials using the same app can help a lot.

Lumosity (iOS and Android)

Lumosity is the brain-boosting app that many others look to emulate and is often touted as the one that started it all. The thing we like about this app is the fact that it’s so personal. You get a training program created for you and daily exercises that are supposed to work out different parts of the brain.

That means that unlike some of the other apps on our list, Lumosity gives you an overall workout. From problem-solving to reaction times and everything in between, the games are fun to play and grow in difficulty. The app will send you reminders to carry out your daily tasks, giving it that personal trainer feel. However, it can get a little boring after a while and doesn’t quite scratch that gaming itch that many of us have.

Personal Zen (iOS)

So, this last app on our list is a little different. It’s not quite the brain-boosting app in the same sense that the others are but is critical nonetheless. Personal Zen helps you to combat stress and anxiety (the clue is in the name!). If you work in a stressful job, then a quick session on the app is said to help relieve some of the tension.

Supported by over 20 years of clinical and neuroscience research, we’re sure they know what they’re doing. It’s an easy-to-use app with some exercises involving simple tasks such as watching a happy sprite while ignoring a negative one. The negative one represents the negative energy surrounding you, and as you ignore it, it disappears. Simple yet effective.

Whether you’d like to improve your vocabulary, play some cards or remove the negative energy from your life, there’s a brain-boosting app out there for everyone. So, give Angry Birds a rest (it’s about time anyway) and try some of these apps. Your brain will thank you for it.