Posted on May 16, 2019, 7 p.m.
Exercising the mind with puzzles and crosswords may help to keep the brain sharp later in life. According to a study from King’s College London and the University of Exeter older adults who engage in math and word puzzles have sharper minds, as published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Findings from this study link two papers previously presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference reported on the frequency of participant involvement with mind puzzles who were frequently tested for changes in brain function over time.
The study involved close to 20,000 adults aged 50+; the more regularly participants played Sudoku and crosswords the higher their brain function was found to be: Those that engaged in word puzzles had the brain function equivalent to 10 years younger than their biological age based on assessment of grammatical reasoning, and they were 8 years younger based on their short term memory.
Dr. Anne Corbett explains, “We’ve found that the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention and reasoning. The improvements are particularly clear in the speed and accuracy of their performance. In some areas the improvement was quite dramatic – on measures of problem-solving, people who regularly do these puzzles performed equivalent to an average of eight years younger compared to those who don’t. We can’t say that playing these puzzles necessarily reduces the risk of dementia in later life but this research supports previous findings that indicate regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer.”
“PROTECT is proving to be one of the most exciting research initiatives of this decade, allowing us to understand more about how the brain ages and to conduct cutting-edge new studies into how we can reduce the risk of dementia in people across the UK. If you’re aged 50 or over, you could sign up to take part in research that will help us all maintain healthy brains as we age,” adds Professor Clive Ballard.
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