How brain training games promote synaptic plasticity

Nick White
May 10, 2024
The term “synaptic plasticity” refers to the brain’s remarkable ability to change and adapt at the level of individual synapses—the junctions between neurons.

What is synaptic plasticity?

The term “synaptic plasticity” refers to the brain’s remarkable ability to change and adapt at the level of individual synapses—the junctions between neurons. These synaptic changes occur in response to variations in neural activity. Through repeated activation of specific neural circuits, brain training games strengthen synaptic connections associated with the targeted cognitive functions.

Neurons connect at the synapse.

Synaptic plasticity’s functional significance in the brain’s capacity to adapt to new information, to optimize communication between neurons, and to fine-tune its neural networks. Synaptic plasticity is crucial for memory: memories are understood to be encoded in interconnected neural circuits, changes in synaptic strength play a fundamental role in this cognitive function.

What is Thinkie's role in supporting synaptic plasticity?

When it comes to supporting synaptic plasticity, Thinkie provides brain training games that have been shown to improve focus (i.e., selective) attention. Thinkie games span all of the following categories:

1. Attentional Tracking Games: These games require players to track and respond to specific stimuli while ignoring distractions. For example, a game might present a series of objects or symbols on the screen, and players must quickly identify and respond to a target stimulus while ignoring irrelevant ones.

2. Dual N-Back Training: Dual N-Back tasks involve remembering and updating information from two different streams of stimuli, such as visual and auditory stimuli. These exercises challenge working memory and attentional control processes, leading to improvements in focus and attentional switching.

3. Visual Search Games: In visual search games, players are presented with a visual scene containing multiple objects, and they must identify a target object among distractors. These games require sustained attention and visual scanning skills to efficiently locate the target.

4. Stroop Effect Games: Stroop tasks present conflicting stimuli, such as words printed in incongruent ink colors (e.g., the word "green" printed in red ink). Players must inhibit the automatic response to read the word and instead focus on identifying the ink color, thus challenging their ability to maintain attention and inhibit distractions.

5. Response Inhibition Games: Response inhibition games require players to inhibit prepotent or automatic responses in favor of a more appropriate response. For example, a game might require players to withhold a response to a certain stimulus or inhibit a motor response until a specific cue is presented.

6. Executive Function Training Games: Executive function training games target higher-order cognitive processes involved in goal-directed behavior, such as planning, organization, and cognitive flexibility. Strengthening these executive functions can indirectly improve attentional control and focus.

The National Institute of Health ( has further information on the topic of brain plasticity and how brain training has been shown to improve cognitive health.

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