Solving Crossword Puzzles Regularly Can Help in Keeping Brain Healthy

Alzheimer's Disease
A side-by-side photo of a healthy brain hemisphere (L) and a brain hemisphere of a person who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease (R). |

Playing crossword puzzles regularly can help improve brain function later in life. This claim was arrived at after a new study found a link between daily puzzling to better memory and reasoning. Specifically, tackling crossword puzzles every day can help keep the mind 10 years younger.

A team from University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London conducted an online trial to assess core aspects of brain function. They analyzed data from 17,000 healthy people aged 50 and above who underwent the CogTrackTM and Protect online cognitive test systems.

The experts also asked the participants how frequently they played word puzzles such as crosswords which are normally the reserve of the elderly. They want to identify lifestyle factors that will help older adults maintain their brain health and stop it from aging by 10 years.

It was concluded that those who regularly engage with crossword puzzles performed better on tasks that required attention, reasoning and memory. Their brain function on the aspect of grammatical reasoning speed and short-term memory accuracy are equivalent to those 10 years younger than their age.

While researchers may not be ready to claim that word puzzles can help stave off age-related neurological diseases like Alzheimer's, they recognize an active mind's ability to reduce the decline in thinking skills. In the meantime, scientists are promoting physical activity, a balanced diet and avoiding cigarettes to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

The result of the aforementioned study is opposite from the conclusion reached by another research last year. According to the Harvard Medical School, mentally stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles don't reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

The finding was based on the fact that Alzheimer's is caused by beta-amyloid protein deposits clumping together in the brain. Based on research on 200 individuals with an average age of 74, mental activities didn't prevent amyloid buildup in the brain.

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