Are Puzzles Good For Your Brain?

Posted on May 28, 2024

Puzzles may be good for your brain, but scientists are doing more research before they can say for sure. The brain is certainly complex, but there is strong evidence to suggest that something as simple as doing puzzles could potentially be of benefit. 

Stimulate different parts of the brain

We’re not just talking about jigsaw puzzles here. Eww … but that’s just me. There are a wide variety of puzzles that require people to use a range of cognitive skills—from spatial thinking and reasoning to language—all of which stimulate different parts of the brain.

Riddles and acrostics are likely to stimulate the language areas of the brain. Types of puzzles that deal with placing symbols in a particular way in a grid are likely to stimulate logic-processing areas.

Puzzles can activate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Memory also comes into play, especially in word-based and math-based puzzles.

Encourages social interaction

Some puzzles are great by yourself, but others are even more fun with a partner or online group. Plenty of research encourages pairing puzzle-solving with socializing with family or friends, as both—simultaneously—have shown to be beneficial. 

Satisfying to solve

There’s a reason we talk about the “thrill of the hunt.” We feel good when we use our brains to figure something out. Puzzles use words, numbers, shapes, and logic in a way that draws us in and makes us want to solve them. Like a detective looking for clues to solve a crime, puzzles are small-scale versions of this quest for understanding. 

Reduce stress and improve mood

Are puzzles good for your brain when you’re totally stressed? The experts say, yes. Life is hard, so if you enjoy solving puzzles, and if it helps you relax for a few minutes, that’s reason enough to set aside some time for them.

I’m not sure puzzles help me relax, but when Fridays roll around and I’m behind the 8-ball for my editing that week, or the social media content I’d been avoiding still needs to be written, just taking a few moments to distract myself with a puzzle seems to bring about a burst of inspiration, creativity, and focus.

Sharpen cognitive skills

Puzzles can be beneficial for cognitive function. Essentially, the term cognitive function refers to mental processes like learning, making decisions, solving problems, thinking and reasoning, among others. In other words, some pretty important stuff!

Reduce risk of developing dementia

We’ve all heard at one time or another that scientific evidence suggests that stimulating your brain with puzzles, games, riddles, conversations, or other forms of “mental aerobics” strengthens neuronal connections and may reduce the risk for cognitive decline.

To a lesser extent, those who pursue creative activities like painting or drawing, reading, watching television, or listening to music also have a lower dementia risk. 

Where should you start?

Have you already grabbed your pencil, phone, or jigsaw pieces? Take a look at these tips and strategies first:

The mid-afternoon slump is when I typically reach for a brain game. But as I think back on the frustrating hours at my grandmother’s card table, searching for the “piece that looks like every other piece” on those awful jigsaw puzzles …  my goal is to not strain this brain with any more jigsaws but to train with something a bit more fun. (No offense Grams.) LOL

Happy puzzling!



Susan will be the first to admit… she’s a nerd. 

Whether tending her garden, fearlessly experimenting with flavors in the kitchen, or putting the first brush to a blank canvas, she’s constantly immersed in creative/nerdy pursuits.  

When an opportunity to leave her 9 to 5 arrived, she didn’t hesitate to pursue her love for language. Her goal was to become an editor and motivate writers to share their stories with the world. Ironically, it was in the world of words and children’s literature where her creative spirit truly blossomed. Drawing from memories of the barn she grew up in, her stories for young readers beautifully capture the essence of farm life and family values, along with kindness, caring, friendship, and acceptance.

She and her hubby live on a small farm in Princeton, Illinois. As her kids grew up and left home, she became caretaker to a flock of escape-artist chickens, her daughter’s lovely Saddlebred horse, and a cantankerous goose who became a beloved character in her children’s stories.


Find more about her and her books at