Apparently if you want to ward off illnesses like Alzheimer, doing a daily crossword puzzle or Sudoku is a good way of keeping the brain active and avoiding ‘senior moments’.But did you know that regularly giving your eyes a workout in the same type of way is also considered in some circles to be a good way of keeping your powers of observation up to scratch?

When you were a child, did you ever play that party game of having to memorize items on a tray? Then having to repeat what you had seen, with the person recalling the most objects winning a prize.
Keeping your visual memory ticking over well is a good idea and keeping your powers of observation well exercised.

Helping children

This is particularly the case for children. Giving even quite young children puzzle games to differentiate between images is good for helping them to pick out letters of the alphabet and improve reading skills. These are the sort of games you see in magazines like ‘spot the difference’ where certain objects are different from one picture to one looking similar, for example in the second picture a chair may just have three legs instead of four. This helps us with visual discrimination, and helps us perceive differences between objects that are similar – for example a child will be able to tell the difference between a ‘5’ and an ‘S’ more easily.Brain Health

The ability to pick out fine detail with your eyes is also a skill that you can practice and improve upon. An example of this is the puzzle games with hidden pictures, when you focus on an image to see another image appear, for example in books of 3D pictures. Stare hard enough and suddenly another visual bursts out on your consciousness. This is a skill called ‘Figure Ground’.

Turning objects with your mind

If you have a good pictorial internal vision you can turn around objects in your mind. For example, imagine you are walking around a car and looking at it from front to back. It’s a good skill for children to practice that’ll help them get letters and numbers in the right order and there are several online games to work on getting this right. This is called ‘Visual Form Constancy’.

Good visual tracking skills enable us to read and follow a line of words in a book or on a computer screen without repeating a line or getting lost. This ability uses our oculomotor system by which we can direct our eye movements accurately. Some adults have never mastered this skill and have to read books with a finger on the line of text they are reading, something that young children often do when they are learn  to read.