Completing crosswords can be a fun hobby, but science has now confirmed it can also keep your brain sharp.
Brain teasers may not only ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s, but can also improve your attention, reasoning and memory skills.
This was the conclusion of a large-scale study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association Conference (AAIC) 2017. Scientists from the University of Exeter and Kings College London, UK, analysed the data from 17,000 healthy people aged 50 and over and found that those who engaged in word puzzles had brain function equivalent to ten years younger than their age.
Professor Keith Wesnes from the University of Exeter, told The Metro (UK): ‘We found direct relationships between the frequency of word puzzle use and the speed and accuracy of performance on nine cognitive tasks assessing a range of aspects of function, including attention, reasoning and memory.
‘Performance was consistently better in those who reported engaging in puzzles, and generally improved incrementally with the frequency of puzzle use.
‘We now need to follow up this very exciting association in a clinical trial, to establish whether engaging in puzzles results in improvement in brain function.’
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, confirmed that there is a link with word puzzles, such as crosswords, although he said: ‘We can’t say definitely that regular “puzzling” improves these skills.
‘To be able to say for sure, the crucial next step is to test if there are benefits in people who take up word puzzles.
‘In the meantime, our top tips to reduce the risk of developing dementia are keeping physically active, avoiding smoking and eating a healthy, balanced diet.’
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