Crossword Puzzles Benefit Cognitive Performance, Memory

HealthDay News — Daily crossword puzzles may help keep the brain sharp, according to research presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

In the study, more than 17,000 healthy people, aged 50 and older, were asked how often they did crosswords and other word puzzles. They also completed online tests of cognitive function. The researchers found the more often they did word puzzles, the higher they scored on attention, reasoning, and memory tests.

“We found direct relationships between the frequency of word puzzle use and the speed and accuracy of performance on 9 cognitive tasks assessing a range of aspects of function including attention, reasoning, and memory,” researcher Keith Wesnes, PhD, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom, said in a university news release. 

Performance was consistently better in those who reported engaging in puzzles, and generally improved incrementally with the frequency of puzzle use, he added.

“For example, 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,” Wesnes said.

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Daily crosswords linked to sharper brain in later life [press release]. Exeter, England. University of Exeter. Published online July 15, 2017. Accessed July 18, 2017.