Author of post Ruth Curran

Playing The Brain Game


paper.pencil.games_-1024x768Playing games is good for your brain health in so many ways.

We have known for a long time that the best way to stay mentally sharp is to keep thinking. The “use it or lose it” principle is pretty sound – firing the electrical and chemical connections in your brain helps keep your brain’s pathways healthy and functioning at a higher level.

The oldest and most common method to keep mental sharpness and improve memory is practice, and even though practice may not make perfect the results sure beats the alternative. The hotly debated topic right now is what to practice. Are crossword puzzles and Sudoku enough or should we be doing more? Do you need to subscribe to a daily service to improve functioning?

My answer is simple: practice what you need and make it a game!

Try This: If you are having trouble finding everything you need to start your day successfully – your keys, your cell phone, wallet – practice focusing your attention on one thing and looking for it. Focused attention is not just blocking out sounds, smells, and other images. Sometimes focused attention means seeing things through the clutter of everyday life. Give yourself time, each day, and test strategies (ie. scan the room in a systematic way or try to isolate things of the same shape or color, or look for things out of place) to find what you need. Pay attention to what works and repeat it. Pay attention to what doesn’t work and think about why.

I had my keys just a minute ago????

Try This: Some days the words to use to describe something is beyond your grasp! Take the time you spend waiting — on hold on the phone, standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting for your next appointment — to practice. Look around you, find things — a window, a painting, a shirt, a bus — and try to think of three (3) names or terms for each thing. Say them out loud, say them in your head or, better yet, write them down. Practice digging for the right word and fighting until you get the perfect word. The best way to keep the words coming is to fire those electrical and chemical connections and keep them active.

The Cranium Crunches philosophy is practice what you need and make it play!

Every day is a new puzzle – same basic picture with some slight variations. The challenge each morning is to:

  • Pay attention to the details.
  • Look for anomalies.
  • Restore order.

Play is always better together! Invite your friends to join you and find the time to play along every day!



Ruth Curran

Cranium Crunches is an online brain training site that helps players work on cognitive abilities like attention, memory, and executive functioning. Launched in 2011, we now have six games and users from all over the world. Our goals for the future include adding word games and audio games, but one step at a time, right?
All of our games are designed to help you keep your brain sharp at any age. You may already do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or play Words with Friends but adding-in games that are aimed at enhancing your brain power will change your life and challenge your brain in different ways than you might be used to.

The Cranium Crunches Story

Cranium Crunches' back story goes way back well before 2011 though, when Ruth Curran, founder, was in a life-changing car accident which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Today, most people would never know that 8 years ago, Ruth struggled not only to form complete sentences but complete thoughts. Her 18 month fight to return to somewhat normal functioning left her feeling like she was constantly trying to think her way out of a paper bag with no clues from the outside world. As part of her rehab, Ruth got her Master's in cognitive psychology and started down a whole new life path.

Over the next 5 years, a couple other situations arose that drew Ruth's attention back to brain health - both of her parents began to experience cognitive decline. Her mother began to suffer the effects of chemo-brain and, several years later, her father from Parksonian dementia. One form of relief she found for her father was the Find the Difference puzzles in Life Magazine. He had such a positive reaction to the puzzles and they soon became an activity for the two of them to work on together. This experience led Ruth down the path to starting an online website with Find the Difference puzzles and other photo-based cognitive puzzles that could people to regain a bit of control and enjoy themselves at the same time.

What's so unique about the games at Cranium Crunches?

We know that we all learn better when things happen in the context of our lives. Our goal is to create puzzles that mimic life so when you practice these cognitive skills, you are practicing within the context of your life. Many of our games are picture-based because we want you to get more than just a great brain workout from playing. We love to travel and take pictures (also great brain activities!) and felt that by turning those pictures into cognitive puzzles, we would be giving people something more than just a game to play.