Crosswords can be the secret to staying sharper in life, study says

Researches in London examined nearly 20,00 people between ages 50 to 93 and asked participants how often they completed puzzles.

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The secret to staying sharp in old age might be as simple as doing crosswords and puzzles, according to new research.

A study from a UK-wide PROTECT published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that adults over 50 who did puzzles like crosswords or number-based puzzles like Sudoku scored higher on cognition tests, meaning their brain functioned better than those who didn’t.


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“We’ve found that the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention, and reasoning,” said lead researcher Anne Corbett. “The improvements are particularly clear in the speed and accuracy of their performance.”

Researches from the University of Exeter and King’s College in London examined nearly 20,00 people between ages 50 to 93 and asked participants how often they completed puzzles. Participants completed the test online and were quizzed each year. Researchers then had participants take cognitive tests that measured attention, information processing, and memory. These tests included word-matching and number puzzles.

The results showed that participants who did daily word puzzles had better short-term memory capacity and was eight years younger compared to someone who didn’t do puzzles.

The same went for brain function with participants who performed daily crosswords having brain function the equivalent to someone 10 years younger.

“We can’t say that playing these puzzles necessarily reduces the risk of dementia in later life but this research supports previous findings that indicate regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer,” added Corbett.


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Kyle Schnitzer|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at kschnitzer@theladders.com.