Cross­words and Mediter­ranean diet key to a healthy brain.

Reg­u­lar puz­zling linked to bet­ter mem­ory and think­ing skills

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - Front Page - Rod minchin

Peo­ple who do daily cross­words or puz­zles have sharper brains in later life, a study sug­gests.

Ex­perts an­a­lysed data from more than 17,000 healthy peo­ple aged 50 and over submitted in an on­line trial.

The team at Ex­eter Univer­sity’s med­i­cal school and Kings Col­lege Lon­don asked par­tic­i­pants how fre­quently they played word puz­zles such as cross­words.

The study, one of the largest of its kind, used tests from the Cog­TrackTM and Pro­tect on­line cog­ni­tive test sys­tems to as­sess core as­pects of brain func­tion.

They found that the more reg­u­larly par­tic­i­pants en­gaged with word puz­zles, the bet­ter they per­formed on tasks as­sess­ing at­ten­tion, rea­son­ing and mem­ory.

From their re­sults, re­searchers cal­cu­late that peo­ple who en­gage in word puz­zles have brain func­tion equiv­a­lent to 10 years younger than their age, on tests of gram­mat­i­cal rea­son­ing speed and short-term mem­ory ac­cu­racy.

Pro­fes­sor Keith Wesnes, from Ex­eter Univer­sity, said: “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.

“On test mea­sures of gram­mat­i­cal rea­son­ing speed and short-term mem­ory ac­cu­racy, per­form­ing word puz­zles was as­so­ci­ated with an agere­lated re­duc­tion of around 10 years.

“We now need to fol­low up this as­so­ci­a­tion in a clin­i­cal trial, to es­tab­lish whether en­gag­ing in puz­zles re­sults in im­prove­ment in brain func­tion.”

The sci­en­tists are hop­ing their work will iden­tify the life­style fac­tors that will help peo­ple main­tain healthy brains.

Pro­fes­sor Clive Bal­lard, also from Ex­eter Univer­sity, said: “We can’t yet say that cross­words give you a sharper brain, the next step is to as­sess whether en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to start play­ing word games reg­u­larly could ac­tu­ally im­prove their brain func­tion.”

Dr Doug Brown, from the Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety, said: “We know that keep­ing an ac­tive mind can help to re­duce de­cline in think­ing skills.

“This new re­search does re­veal a link be­tween word puz­zles and mem­ory and think­ing skills, but we can’t say defini­tively that reg­u­lar ‘puz­zling’ im­proves these skills. The cru­cial next step is to test if there are ben­e­fits in peo­ple who take up word puz­zles.”

Pic­ture: PA.

Puz­zling could make your brain sharper in later life, new re­search sug­gests.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.