Use it or lose it – that’s the general feeling when it comes to muscle memory, and since the brain is a muscle, it’s a truth that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Alzheimer’s Society funded a study to see if brain training can even help improve cognitive function in older people.

Using games which challenged participants on reasoning and problem solving, the study found that they helped people over 60 to get on better with their daily activities over 6 months. The researchers also found improvements in reasoning and verbal learning skills in those over the age of 50.

The best part about brain training is that it’s as fun as it is helpful too. Here are four brilliant brain games you should try.

Sudoku

How it helps the brain: Sudoku relies on your working memory, as you’re mentally placing numbers on the grid and keeping those numbers in mind.

[Read more: Thinking about private health cover? Get a free, no obligation quote]

Unfortunately, once you get too good at it, it stops challenging your brain. So take a break from these puzzles every now and then to keep it a challenging hobby.

The tray game

How it helps the brain: This is one you can make yourself; simply place some objects on a tray, give yourself 20 seconds to look at them and then cover it with a tea towel. You then have to try and remember as many items as possible within a time limit. This really works on your memory. To keep it challenging, keep adding more items in.

Chess

How it helps the brain: Chess helps to improve your memory in different ways, depending on how seasoned a chess player you are.

If you’re a chess rookie, you’ll be using your short-term memory to play while a pro will rely on remembering previous strategies they’ve used to win. Chess is said to not only help with memory, but boost your IQ too.

[Read more: Brain training: 11 easy tricks to keep your brain young and healthy]

Bingo

How to helps the brain: Dabbers at the ready because bingo actually helps the brain in a number of ways.

Bingo requires the player to use a combination of skills – memorising numbers, problem-solving, working under pressure and focusing. Plus the social aspect is a great mood-booster too.

Wink Bingo commented: “Bingo not only improves your memory, but can also have positive effects such as heightening your reaction time and concentration, releasing stress and improving your mood.”

What are your favourite games to keep you sharp? Tell us in the Comments box below.