The cryptic solution to knocking 10 years off your brain’s age (5, 9)
IF COMPLETING the Telegraph crossword is a daily tradition, it may be gratifying to learn that your brain is 10 years younger than your actual age.
Researchers at the University of Exeter and King’s College London tested more than 17,000 healthy people aged 50 to gauge their memory, attention and reasoning.
They found that the more often participants tackled word puzzles, the better they performed at tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory.
From their results, researchers calculate that puzzle enthusiasts have brain function equivalent to someone 10 years younger, on tests of grammatical reasoning speed and short-term memory accuracy.
The team believes that a daily crossword could help prevent mental decline.
Prof Keith Wesnes, from the University of Exeter, 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.
“On test measures of grammatical reasoning speed and short-term memory accuracy, performing word puzzles was associated with an age-related reduction of around 10 years.
“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.”
Scientists hope their work will identify lifestyle factors to help people maintain healthy brains.
According to university researchers, a daily tussle with a crossword can knock 10 years off our cognitive age. Online testing carried out on more than 17,000 healthy people aged 50 found that the more they engaged regularly with word puzzles, the better they performed on tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory. With people living longer and risking dementia, a daily crossword could help prevent or at least arrest mental decline in later life. More than that, it might actually improve brain function. This newspaper was a pioneer of crosswords, the first appearing in 1925. It is nice to know that those among our readers who head for the back page each morning, pen at the ready, can legitimately say that they are a decade younger than they are – or that their brain is at least.