Puzzles were a prominent part of my childhood. During the winter months, our dining room table often held a large piece of leftover wall paneling covered with jigsaw puzzles in progress. I would sit with my mom and try to find pieces that would fit. It was a little daunting as a child, but something that made me feel grown up. I‘m sure I had my own puzzles to work, but I enjoyed the social aspect of sitting at a table with family and doing them together. My mother still does puzzles today. She has a card table that stays in the living room for her to work her puzzles on. When I go home to visit, there is always a puzzle in progress.
No matter what age you are, puzzles are very good for your brain. Putting a puzzle together calls upon many cognitive skills, providing you with a great brain work out.
Visual Perception: As you work to match shape, color and design, you are giving your Occipital Lobe a workout. As you search through all of the pieces to find the correct ones you are strengthening your visual scanning abilities. It’s also great for spatial reasoning
Coordination: Putting puzzles together hones hand-eye coordination and can strengthen and improve fine motor skills and dexterity in young and old hands.
Critical Thinking: The steps it takes to complete a puzzle incorporate elements of sequencing, planning, logic, strategy and problem solving skills. These skills require the work of your prefrontal cortex located in the frontal lobe.
Memory: You may not realize it but puzzles exercise your short term and visual memory. These memory components are used regularly while you put a puzzle together.
Many people find puzzles relaxing and they can provide you with a sense of accomplishment which releases dopamine in the brain. And any time we spend focusing on one activity helps improve our ever-waning attention spans. They can also be a great catalyst for social interaction. Working at our stores during the holidays, I meet a number of families who have a Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day tradition of working a puzzle together. It’s an activity that can include all ages and gives you quality time together.