Boost your Brain in London

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for the list – play more games.

According to a 2013 study cited by Psychology Today, playing Nintendo’s milestone platformer, Super Mario Bros., causes the growth of new neurons in the brain, increases a person’s motor skills and strategic planning abilities, and helps with memory formation.

Gaming can also boost the production of grey matter, making the brain physically larger.

It might sound too good to be true but the above piece of research isn’t the first to make a connection between brain power and gaming.

For instance, at the Max Planck Institute, gamers playing Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo DS showed significant development in three brain bits, the cerebellum, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, after just two months.

It’s not just a happy quirk; according to a recent article from 888casino, gaming has applications in the reversal of degenerative brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 888casino, also notes the value of gaming as a vehicle for social interaction, especially among seniors.

Here are few ways to keep your brain active in London in 2017:

Gaming Bars

In a similar vein to the above, gaming bars are the arcades of 2016, albeit a more adult-orientation version. Combining classic cabinets like Space Invaders and Street Fighter II with craft beers, pinball, board games, and food, gaming bars are a new phenomenon almost exclusive to the London boroughs of Islington, Hackney, and Peckham.

Four Quarters (Peckham) is about as close to a 80s-era arcade as you’re likely to get on the high street today, while Loading in Stoke Newington has a nightclub ambiance, serving shots named after popular franchises – Smoker, Boomer, and Tank from Left 4 Dead, for example.

There are similar outlets in Battersea (Four Thieves) and by Caledonian Road Station (Meltdown).


Poker places such a heavy emphasis on decision making and emotional stability that there’s even a special term for losing control – “tilt”. Casino is an entirely different type of experience to the conventional sofa-based gaming session but playing card games twice a week can reportedly reduce a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50%.

There are several large casinos in south west London, including at the Gloucester in Harrington Gardens and the Cromwell Mint in South Kensington.

However, if you can’t make it to a brick-and-mortar establishment, players can get much the same brain benefits from playing poker and blackjack online.

wire-cc-by-2-0-by-j-p-davidson           © J P Davidson

Escape Games

Finally, one of the stranger industries arising in the last few years, escape games or escape rooms provide exactly the kind of experience you’d expect – a locked room, a timer, and a series of clues that lead to liberation.

They generally operate on a “pop up” basis but permanent attractions do exist in the capital.

Do Stuff Escape Games at the Grove Pub, Battersea, provides a unique, hostage escape scenario for brave puzzlers but Lady Chastity’s Reserve at Clapham Junction offers arguably the most original spin on the genre in the south of the capital.

It’s not a true escape game (it’s a timed puzzle) but it has a compelling storyline acted out by the host.

Whatever you do with your brain in 2017 and in future years, you can stave off a range of conditions and boost your grey matter simply by factoring in a game or two each week.

As far as medical advice goes, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Featured image courtesy of chrisgj6, with thanks

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